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Pioneers of Environmental Protection

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

Born October 27, 1858 in New York City, New York

Died January 6, 1919 at Sagamore Hill, his home on Long Island, New York

Accomplishments

bullet Graduated from Harvard College, magna cum laude, in 1880
bullet 26th President of the United States of America (1901-1909)
bullet First American to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for ending Russo-Japanese War in 1905
bullet Wrote more than 35 books
bullet Father of six children

Environmental Legacy

As 26th President of the United States of America, Theodore Roosevelt left an extensive and lasting legacy of environmental conservation and stewardship.

On March 14, 1903, President Roosevelt created the nation’s first wildlife refuge on Pelican Island in Florida. Located in the Indian River Lagoon just north of Vero Beach on Florida’s southeast coast, the three-acre island was home to pelicans, herons, egrets and other birds that were being hunted and killed for their large colorful and exotic feathers. The feathers, which were more commonly called plumes, adorned the most fashionable hats of the day and were in great demand both in America and across the Atlantic in Europe. By declaring the island a wildlife sanctuary, President Roosevelt protected the birds from professional plume hunters that were slaughtering flocks of the nesting birds. The National Wildlife Refuge system is now the largest in the world with over 500 refuges with more than 93,000 million acres of land.

Just three years later, President Roosevelt signed the Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities, which is most commonly known as the 1906 Antiquities Act. Under the law, the President of the United States may "declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures and other objects of historic and scientific interest that are situated upon lands owned or controlled by the Governor of the United States to be a National Monument."

According to National Geographic, Roosevelt placed approximately 230 million acres of land under public protection. As President, he established 150 National Forests including the Ocala and Choctawhatchee National Forests in Florida, 51 Federal Bird Reservations including Pelican Island plus nine others, 18 National Monuments, perhaps the most notable of which is the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and 5 National Parks.

"There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country."

Theodore Roosevelt, August 6, 1912, Confession of Faith Speech, Progressive National Convention

Did you know teddy bears were named after Theodore Roosevelt?Teddy Bear

While on a hunting trip, Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot an old and injured bear that had been captured and tied to a tree. After hearing about the story, a shop owner asked President Roosevelt, who had been called Teedie as a child, if he could name a stuffed toy animal in his store, Teddy’s Bear. President Roosevelt agreed and the phrase caught on.

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