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Conservationist, photographer to discuss work, importance of documenting nature

Sunrise over the Columbia River, Oregon, from Crown Point, by Tim Palmer
August 15, 2018

Award-winning author, accomplished nature photographer and Penn State alumnus Tim Palmer will visit the University Park campus for a series of events on Sept. 12 and 13.

He will be speaking from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept.12, at the Palmer Museum of Art on his recent book “Twilight of the Hemlocks and Beeches,” written to feature the beauty of hemlock and beech forests and to spread awareness of their decimation. His second talk will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 13, in 121 Sparks Building where Palmer will discuss another recent book, “Wild and Scenic Rivers: An American Legacy."

He will also take part in a panel discussion at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 with other authors of nature books. The discussion will focus on the documentation of Pennsylvania’s natural environment and the importance of documenting nature in a variety of media, especially in the age of climate change, foreign pathogens and manmade threats to natural landscapes.

Palmer said he is excited to return to Penn State, an institution where many share the passions that drive him.

“I have deep inseverable roots in Central Pennsylvania,” Palmer said. “The scent of the soil and of the trees here smells like home, no matter how long I've been gone.”

Palmer specializes in photographing rivers. He has been taking photos of America’s rivers and natural landscapes for more than 40 years and has one of the most complete collections of photos of rivers in the United States.

Lara Fowler, assistant director for outreach and engagement at the Institutes of Energy and the Environment and senior lecturer at Penn State Law, said that Palmer’s work was instrumental in the passage of the U.S. Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.

“This year is the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act,” Fowler said. “Tim’s photographs helped people see the beauty of a river running free, at a time when many people could not experience such rivers directly. His work was and is incredibly important in helping people better understand the landscapes in which they live.”

Palmer has devoted his life to writing, photography and speaking about nature and conservation. He has a passion for encouraging society to do better when it comes to protecting natural resources.

“It's important,” Palmer said. “I can't conceive of spending significant time on anything that's not important. I also really love the idea that I'm engaged in the big issues of our time.”

Palmer is a Pennsylvania native and a graduate from Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture who was recognized with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005.

His passion for nature grew exponentially after directing Earth Day at Penn State in 1970. Palmer continued to work on other projects in the State College area after finishing school. With a grant from Trout Unlimited, he instilled a watershed protection plan along Pine Creek. He also worked as an environmental planner in Williamsport for 10 years.

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