On December 1 I tweeted a link to a San Jose Mercury News article on Martin Litton, who had just passed away. The article begins “Tireless, fearless and often rambunctious, Martin Litton devoted more than 60 years of his life to protecting the natural beauty of the West, from stopping dams in the Grand Canyon to preserving California’s ancient redwoods and sequoia forests…”
A few days later there was a New York Times obituary. This morning an email from the Adventure Travel Association provided a link to its article on Mr. Litton, which in turn provided a link to an excellent article at O.A.R.S., the largest river-based adventure travel company in North America.
A trail blazing entrepreneur, in 1971 Litton founded Grand Canyon Dories and guided in the Canyon for many years; in 2001 he founded Sequoia ForestKeeper and remained active with it until his death. On its tribute page on Litton, Sequoia ForestKeeper states:
“Martin Litton spent his 97 years walking on this earth with a single mission: to lessen man’s impact upon the natural world. Whether protecting Giant Sequoias or giant rivers, he was at the forefront, educating the public and legislators about why reducing forests to rubble and damming rivers until they are a trickle were bad ideas. Martin’s legacy will live on with the ancient sequoias and will be told in the geologic timetable that is found on the walls of the Grand Canyon…”
Bottom line, Martin Litton lived his life fully & well. He was an adventure travel pioneer and an entrepreneur in business and advocacy. My sense is he wasn’t particularly well known outside the environmental circles he operated in, so this post is to make visible my respect and provide his life with a little more visibility.
I’m sorry I never met Martin Litton. However, years ago, before email, I picked up the phone and called him about his dory operation in the Grand Canyon. We had a cordial 10-15 minute phone conversation – but he was having too much fun showing customers the river & canyon to consider selling his truly unique business. It was of course a large part of his identity.
Martin Litton, R.I.P.