Born on October 27, 1858, in New York City, Roosevelt overcame health challenges of asthma and poor eyesight, and focused his attention on the outdoor world. He enjoyed collecting live animals and hunting “specimens” to study. As a youngster, he established his own natural history museum with items gathered from his neighborhood and family travels. By the time of his presidency, he was a well-known naturalist and outdoorsman. This background prepared him for many of the challenges of his administration.
As President, Roosevelt rose to a conservation crisis. Bison and beaver were fast disappearing, while other species had become extinct. Approximately four-fifths of the nation’s prime forests had been cut to make way for farms. Years of continuous farming had compromised soil fertility.
His leadership changed the public’s perception that America’s natural resources were inexhaustible. Under Roosevelt’s leadership, the Federal Government expanded its role in preserving our nation’s resources:
- Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law in 1906. This law has been used to protect magnificent cliff dwellings, ruins and missions discovered on public lands in the southwestern United States.
- Through Presidential Proclamation, Roosevelt created 18 national monuments, 5 national parks, 150 national forests, 51 Federal bird reservations and 4 national game reserves. The monuments included Devils Tower, Lassen Volcanic, Muir Woods, and the Grand Canyon (before it became a national park).
- Roosevelt established the United States Forest Service, a federal land management agency.
- In total, Roosevelt set aside more than 200 million acres of public lands in the United States.
Theodore Roosevelt Association
Theodore Roosevelt Center