Dilsaver, Lary M. 1949-

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Dilsaver, Lary M. 1949-


Born 1949, in CA. Education: California State University, Hayward, B.A., 1971, M.A., 1977; Louisiana State University, Ph.D., 1982.


Office—Department of Earth Sciences, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL 36688; fax: 251-461-1487. E-mail—[email protected]


University of South Alabama, Mobile, assistant professor, 1982-88, associate professor, 1988-1992, professor of geography, 1992—. Environmental history researcher for National Park Service.


Theodore C. Blegen Award, Forest History Society, 1990, for best article on conservation; Career Research Award, National Park Service, 2002.



The Effects of International Tourism: A Bibliography, Council of Planning Librarians (Monticello, IL), 1977.

(With William C. Tweed) Challenge of the Big Trees: A Resource History of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Sequoia Natural History Association (Three Rivers, CA), 1990.

(Editor, with Craig E. Colten) The American Environment: Interpretations of Past Geographies, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (Lanham, MD), 1992.

(Editor) America's National Park System: The Critical Documents, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (Lanham, MD), 1994.

(Editor, with William Wyckoff) The Mountainous West: Explorations in Historical Geography, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1995.

Cumberland Island National Seashore: A History of Conservation Conflict, University of Virginia Press (Charlottesville, VA), 2004.

Contributor to Western Spaces, American Places, edited by Gary Hausladen, University of Nevada Press (Reno, NV), 2003. Contributor to periodicals, including Pacific Historical Review, Journal of Cultural Geography, Historical Geography, and Florida Geographer.


Lary M. Dilsaver is a professor of historical geography at the University of South Alabama. His publications include articles on current issues, such as federal environmental management and tourism, and on historical subjects, such as the California Gold Rush. Published in 2004, his book Cumberland Island National Seashore: A History of Conservation Conflict brings together several of his interests: land use, historical geography, and national parks. The book concerns federally-owned land that lies three miles off the southern coast of Georgia. Cumberland Island is the largest and southernmost coastal island in Georgia, and the Cumberland Island National Seashore is part of a much larger barrier island formation that stretches from Virginia to Florida. It was used as a hunting and fishing ground by the Native Americans, and as a military outpost by the British for a time, but it remained largely uninhabited until after the American Revolution. At that time, development on Cumberland began in earnest, with crops planted, livestock brought to range freely around the island, and establishment of some very large plantations. Oranges, cotton, olives, and lumber were all harvested profitably on the island. After the Civil War, the island was largely deserted, but in the 1880s, one of its estates was acquired by the wealthy Carnegie family for use as a winter getaway. In the years that followed, the Carnegie family continued to buy property on the island until almost ninety percent of it was in their possession. They built their most famous mansions there, including Greyfield and Plum Orchard. During the 1950s, family members went to the National Park Service with a proposal to establish some sort of park on the island, but it wasn't until 1972 that negotiations between all involved parties finally resulted in the establishment of the Cumberland Island National Seashore. Even then, there continued to be many challenging aspects to preserving the island. There were herds of wild hogs and wild horses, management of which was a highly controversial subject; and the concerns of environmentalists were at odds with the desires of some island property owners. Management of the island continues to be a heated topic, as the Park Service strives to promote public use and enjoyment of the area while preserving and protecting the island and its resources.

Dilsaver's book details the island's rich past and considers its present and future, with a special focus on the conflicting interests of the various parties who have a stake in the island's status as a National Seashore. The author begins his book with a natural history of the island, followed by a summary of the 130 years it was in use by Native Americans. The years after development began are explored in detail. Concerning the controversies involved with the designation of the island as a National Seashore, Dilsaver outlines what he believes are the three main issues: recreational use, protection of natural resources, and protection of cultural resources. Each issue had its supporters, and each camp felt that the involvement of the National Park Service was the key to promote their pet cause. Thus, Park Service administrators were drawn into disputes among all three groups. The author's "research and documentation are thorough," commented Ann W. Ellis Pullen in a review for the Journal of Southern History. Also helpful are numerous maps that illuminate the text. Pullen felt that through this work, readers will certainly gain insight into the complexity of decisions made by the National Park Service. Kimberly R. Sebold, reviewing the book for the Environmental History Web site, stated: "Dilsaver's prose is enjoyable and concise while his story is captivating, positing that the battle between conservationists and preservationists continues. The book's main strength is in its intertwining of the history of the island with the history of the National Park Service and the U.S. environmental policy."



Journal of Southern History, May, 2005, Ann W. Ellis Pullen, review of Cumberland Island National Seashore: A History of Conservation Conflict, p. 482.

Journal of the West, July, 1997, Hal Rothman, review of America's National Park System: The Critical Documents, p. 112.

Reference & Research Book News, August, 2004, review of Cumberland Island National Seashore, p. 74.

Western Historical Quarterly, May, 1992, Jim Aton, review of Challenge of the Big Trees: A Resource History of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, p. 263.


Environmental History,http://www.historycooperative.org/ (March 12, 2008), Kimberly R. Sebold, review of Cumberland Island National Seashore.

University of South Alabama Web site,http://www.usouthal.edu/ (March 14, 2008).