Environmental Actions Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Conservation was a wholly new concept at the end of the nineteenth century and would not gain widespread attention until well into the twentieth century. It began with a few early adopters, such as John Muir and John Wesley Powell, and took off too among sport hunters, like Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell. Muir, who traveled up and down the country on foot, came to appreciate the splendors of untainted natural areas and wanted to preserve them whole. Powell, who trained as a geologist but later went on to head the Bureau of American Ethnology, felt that land settlement in the West should be suited to its arid conditions—small and concentrated in irrigated areas. Meanwhile, Roosevelt and other hunting enthusiasts wanted to preserve areas for wildlife, while also allowing selective access to developers of natural resources. The latter perspective is close to that of Roosevelt's friend and fellow conservation leader, Gifford Pinchot, who did as much as anyone to launch the conservation movement.

Conservation was a wholly new concept at the end of the nineteenth century and would not gain widespread attention until well into the twentieth century. It began with a few early adopters, such as John Muir and John Wesley Powell, and took off too among sport hunters, like Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell. Muir, who traveled up and down the country on foot, came to appreciate the splendors of untainted natural areas and wanted to preserve them whole. Powell, who trained as a geologist but later went on to head the Bureau of American Ethnology, felt that land settlement in the West should be suited to its arid conditions—small and concentrated in irrigated areas. Meanwhile, Roosevelt and other hunting enthusiasts wanted to preserve areas for wildlife, while also allowing selective access to developers of natural resources. The latter perspective is close to that of Roosevelt's friend and fellow conservation leader, Gifford Pinchot, who did as much as anyone to launch the conservation movement.

These environmental perspectives are sampled in the section that follows. They are combined here with material relating to the purchase of Alaska by the United States in 1867; the founding of two of the first US National Parks (Yellowstone and Yosemite); and a look at the virtual extinction of the bison through wanton hunting and the earliest effort to save the species.

Categories: History Content