While a student at Yale in the 1880s, Gifford Pinchot decided that he would pursue a career as a professional forester. Because no such programs were offered by any American universities at the time, he attended the French National School of Forestry. Following his return to the United States in 1890, he took a position with the recently formed United States Bureau of Forestry. He soon left government service to open his own consulting firm, where he developed a reputation as one of the country’s leading foresters and conservationists. In 1896 Pinchot served on a forestry commission appointed by Congress to study ways to implement the Forest Reserve. Pinchot was a proponent of resource management or “wise use,” and while serving on the commission had a falling out with fellow commission member John Muir over the issue of opening the newly created forest preserves for mining and grazing. Over the next twenty years, this conflict between wilderness preservation and resource utilization would have significant repercussions for the conservation movement, which split into two antagonistic factions over this issue. After Theodore Roosevelt assumed the presidency in 1901, Roosevelt appointed Pinchot as his chief forester, a position he held until he was dismissed by President William Taft in 1910. Pinchot later served two terms (1923–1926 and 1931–1934) as governor of Pennsylvania.
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