Go deeper into the history of each park with scholarly articles and essays from Oxford University Press, freely available for the centennial year.

American National Biography

Theodore Roosevelt

U.S. Presidents

Roosevelt continued to push for rational use of the nation's natural resources. Driven by a holistic view of society and informed by his knowledge of nature as enriched by his experience in the West, his policies rested on a blend of applied science, administrative efficiency, and democratic ideals unexampled to that time. Central were the concepts, as propounded by Gifford Pinchot, chief forester of the United States, and others, that "every stream was a unit from its source to its mouth" and that natural resources had multiple uses: The forest should act as a reservoir, inhibit erosion of crop and grazing lands, and afford habitat to wildlife. It also should supply lumber for housing and other human purposes. Against the opposition of powerful members of his own party, and at times of both parties, Roosevelt pressed Congress and the states to place the future public interest above the current private interest. The reserves, he insisted, should be "set apart forever" for the benefit of all the people, not "sacrificed to the short-sighted greed of a few"; they should even provide "free camping grounds.

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