A Human For Nature
When looking at the issue of humans and nature throughout history, one significant figure stands out in my mind: Theodore Roosevelt. Without him, the most beautiful and serene places in North America may have been destroyed or fallen to the hands of developers. Development and conservation of land have been issues that we have faced since Europeans first landed in America. Today, environmental issues are a concern that any contending political candidate must address. In focusing on Theodore Roosevelt, we will find a basis for preservation in America. We will also explore some of the preservation actions that take place in our world today.
The original forests in the United States covered an extremely large amount of land. It is estimated that forests took up roughly 1 billion acres of land, including Alaska5. The first to manipulate the land were the Native Americans who used tools and fire to convert the land to their needs. Areas were cleared for villages and growing crops while acres were also burned to make travel easier and improve hunting conditions. As Europeans arrived on the continent, the lands changed even more dramatically. The Colonists saw the forest as both a never ending resource, and an obstacle for using the land for farming purposes. Still, lumber quickly became one of America’s first exports along with fur which also depended heavily on the forest. As time passed, the population of America grew very rapidly. With a growing population more and more forests were converted for agricultural purposes. By the 1840’s "Manifest Destiny" had become popular, and the government thought transfer of public lands to private ownership as the best way to utilize the continents many resources. Around this time, the lumber industry was booming due to increased demand for railroad construction. In the mid-1800’s some conservationist groups formed and were able to set land aside in protected areas: Yosemite in California (1864); Yellowstone in Wyoming (1872); and the Adirondack Preserve in New York (1885)5. Yet for the most part, the loggers, the government, and the rest of the country still viewed the land and forests of America as endless and interminable.
Fortunately, an individual came along who put future public interest above the current private interest of the nations resources: Theodore Roosevelt. Over the course of his life Roosevelt has been responsible for creating 4 Big Game Refugees, 51 National Bird Reservations, the National Forrest Service and five National Parks including Crater Lake in Oregon and the Anasazi ruins at Mesa Verde, Colorodo1. He brought many of our countries most beautiful landscapes into the light that they deserved. In doing so, these national "jewels" were recognized by the government as natural resources that require federal management for their up keep. The contributions that Roosevelt has made to our country allow him to truly be considered a human for nature.