A Legacy of Conservation
By Lizzie Wasilewska
In addition to founding several national parks, Roosevelt set aside more than 100 million acres of land for national forests. He did so after recognizing the tragic impact that humans had already made on these forests. Hunters, miners and loggers were threatening the survival of entire ecosystems. Roosevelt’s vision was practical: He believed that, in a conserved wilderness, humans should have the right to harvest timber and use water to irrigate farmland — but in moderation, and with care.Therefore, in 1905, Roosevelt founded the Bureau of Forestry. Within this bureau, supervisors ensured that timberlands were managed strategically in order to avoid problems like soil erosion and over-harvesting.
This was among the first of many provisions that Roosevelt made in order to ensure the continuing health of wilderness areas. In Alaska, he founded the Tongass and Chugach reserves; in Hawai’i, he founded the Hawai’ian Islands Bird Reservation; in Arizona, he founded the Grand Canyon National Monument. Over time, more and more territories achieved the potential for brighter futures due to his conservationism.
American Forests continues to protect many of the ecosystems that Roosevelt saved over half a century ago. For example, as part of our Endangered Western Forests initiative, we work to restore damaged forest areas in the Greater Yellowstone Area, which Roosevelt once advocated for.