Lapham was the founder of
the conservation movement in Wisconsin.
He was a young civil engineer when he arrived
in Milwaukee in 1836, three days before
Wisconsin became a U.S. Territory.
records on the pristine environment served
as benchmarks for those who followed
him. In 1855 he urged state legislators
to authorize a natural history survey "before any
more of the native species become extinct," and
he warned about the devastation of state
forests 50 years before it became an issue.