Happy President’s Day! For those of you enjoying your day off, don’t forget the reason why. For those of you at work (like yours truly), know you’re making our presidents proud (that’s what I’m telling myself anyway).
Today is a great day to take a break from the usual headlines and highlights to instead reflect back on our nation’s history and honor our great leaders. I’m sure many of you out there are already catching on to my direction; for those of you who aren’t, Presidents Day is a day that environmentalists can also rally around, and should (expand your mind folks, we’re not just limited to Earth Day). Hence, we here at Spinach are going to take a quick moment to do so.
While many people contributed to the founding of the environmental movement or environmental awareness (at a minimum), one key member of the movement was also one of our nation’s presidents. Dubbed the “Conservationist President,” our nation’s 26th president paved the way for the environmentalists to follow his lead. If you haven’t already consulted your presidential timeline or are still scratching your head, I’ll go ahead and share: I’m talking about Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt wasn’t just some wimp in big glasses who rose up to ride it rough, become president, speak softly while carrying a big stick, and go on to lead the Bull Moose Party. Believe it or not, there’s a legit reason why we call them “Teddy Bears.”
Roosevelt had a big soft spot in his heart for nature. As president, he used his authority to protect wildlife and public lands by creating the U.S. Forest Service and establishing 51 federal bird reservations, 4 national game preserves, 150 national forests, and 5 national parks. He also signed the 1906 American Antiquities Act which he then used to declare 18 national monuments. During his presidency, he protected approximately 230,000,000 acres of public land. Out of a total land area of over 2 billion acres—and not discounting for urban areas, agriculture, private lands, etc.—that’s not too shabby for a first crack.
So on this day, let’s remember his wisdom with a toast:
“We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”
To learn more about TR’s efforts, visit the National Park Service’s website.