The Environmentalist President

I'm feeling better now so watch for more regular posts again, sorry.

In honor of President's Day, I want to highlight a President with a particularly strong environmental record, President Theodore Roosevelt.

President Roosevelt, by any measure, was an incredible President. One measure related to this blog is his environmental record. President Roosevelt was a Republican who realized the importance of conservation. His first environmental accomplishment was the creation of the National Bird Preserve, which he created by rallying his base of hunters and fishers to endorse the Pelican Island protected area in Florida. In 1905, Roosevelt worked with Congress to create the United States Forest Service to manage the federal government's forest lands.

By 1909, Roosevelt's administration had set aside 194 million acres for national parks and nature preserves, more than all of his predessors combined. In addition, 42 million acres of national forests, 53 million acres of national wildlife refuge, and 18 special interest areas were set aside, including the Grand Canyon.

No President matched that conservationist record until President Bill Clinton, 90 years later. Roosevelt once told a group of Governors at the Conference of Governors in 1908 that, "There is an intimate relation between our streams and the development and conservation of all the other great permanent sources of wealth."

One particularly strict policy successfully pursued by Roosevelt was the creation of the Antiquities Act. Don't be fooled by its unusual name. This Act gives all president's the power to create national monuments by presidential proclamation without Congressional approval on an item-by-item basis. President Clinton used this power to create many new national monuments just days before the end of his Presidency, all of which were unsuccessfully challenged by the Bush administration. President Roosevelt used the power to create the Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming.

Some environmentalists don't approve of President Roosevelt's view of blending conservation with economics to utilize resources for their most efficient use. I am not going to touch that sensitive debate. What I will say is that at a time of increasing development and decreasing natural resources, all nations would greatly benefit from the type of conservationist philosphy embodied in President Roosevelt.

Here is the wikipedia source for this entry.

Happy President's Day!

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