There are many celebrations occurring cross the country this year for the 100th anniversary of our National Parks. I, along with several of my TR friends, will be contributing to these events, partly because many mistakenly believe Roosevelt created the National Parks. Here is where you might need to pull out your history books for a refresher.
The first National Park was Yellowstone, established in 1872, well before Roosevelt’s time. During his Presidency, Roosevelt doubled the number of National Parks from 1901-1909. So that begs the question, why is 2016 the 100th Anniversary? Because it wasn’t until Woodrow Wilson that the creation of the National Park Service occurred.
So why is Teddy often credited with the parks creation? Because it was Roosevelt’s contribution to conservation and wildlife preservation that resulted in a national awareness of the need to continue to preserve the American Landscape. Three major contributions of Roosevelt led to this: His doubling the number of National Parks while President; The creation of Wildlife Refuges and; the Antiquities Act of 1906 which created our National Monuments. We must also remember that it was Roosevelt who hired Gifford Pinchot as the first Chief of the United States Forest Service to help manage our forest resources. During his Presidency, Roosevelt would help protect 230 Million acres of land. There is a very real reason he is called the conservation President!
As part of my mission for 2016 and hopefully beyond, I encourage you to take this year to explore this amazing land. Take your children and their children on the real kind of adventure. One where electronic devices are used only to record the sights and sounds to remind us of our experience. An adventure where our conversations revolve around the amazing landscape that surrounds us. Our parks, local, state and National are our real treasures. Preserved because you enjoy them – but enjoy them you must to keep their preservation.