Theodore Roosevelt

Conservation’s Best President

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) was the 26th President of the United States and the most important in terms of conservation. His legacy is both broad and massive. He is legendary with conservation accomplishments, adventuresome stories, and literary talent. His life is worth extensive study and is one of my favorite human beings.

Theodore Roosevelt & John Muir in Yosemite
(U.S. Library of Congress)

Without the assassination of William McKinley, Roosevelt would surely not have been President and no one knows where the conservation movement would have been. We would not have:

United States Forest Reserve and 150 National Forests which currently encompass 225.6 million acres. Unfortunately, National Forests continue to be a contentious point among conservationists because of their mismanagement. But the potential is great and important and National Forests provide for wonderful exploring opportunities, including hiking with your dog and birding.

51 Federal Bird Reserves – this became the National Wildlife Refuge System and has grown to 562 reserves covering more than 150 million acres

5 National Parks

18 National Monuments

In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.

Theodore Roosevelt

All told, Theodore Roosevelt protected 230 million acres while he was President.

Theodore Roosevelt is honored on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and is the only President to have a National Park named after him: Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

Literary Contribution

Theodore Roosevelt was a prolific writer beyond being an avid outdoorsman. His books are filled with excitement and meld well with the hunter-conservationist part of the Conservation Movement. Somehow he was able to sit long enough to author or co-author 35 books.

There are also many great books written about our conservation hero:

The Naturalist: Theodore Roosevelt and His Adventures in the Wilderness by Darrin Lunde [review]

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley

Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life by Kathleen Dalton

Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt by David McCullough

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard

T.R.: The Last Romantic by H.W. Brands