Home Blog

Teddy Roosevelt’s Conservation Collaborators

Teddy Roosevelt’s Conservation Collaborators

Teddy Roosevelt began the modern conservation movement by initiating laws protecting wilderness environments and the wildlife living there. But, he didn’t do this alone.

Here are several of the most prominent collaborators in President Theodore Roosevelt’s conservation movement.

John Muir: Naturalist and Writer

John Muir was born in Scotland and loved the outdoors even as a child. His family immigrated to the U.S when he was 11 years old. As a university student, Muir received his first lesson in botany from a fellow student under a black locust tree on campus, inspiring him to study plants and animals in nature.

Muir called nature the ‘University of Wilderness’ and traveled far and wide. He walked from Kentucky to Florida and wrote a book about his adventures called A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf. He eventually moved to California where he soon made a trip to Yosemite.

Muir’s experience in Yosemite inspired him to take up the cause of protecting this spectacular landscape through federal legislation. He became acquainted with Teddy Roosevelt during this time and personally showed him Yosemite’s wonders in 1903. This visit strongly influenced Roosevelt’s decision to include Yosemite in the newly created National Park system.

In 1892, Muir and others formed the Sierra Club. Muir also was instrumental in helping to establish the Grand Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. He published sixteen popular books during his long life.

Gifford Pinchot: American Forest Conservationist

Gifford Pinchot was a primary collaborator with Roosevelt in establishing the National Forest system. Pinchot was born in Connecticut, and his father encouraged him to become a forester when the science of forestry was just starting.

Pinchot followed his father’s advice, becoming an avid conservationist focusing on the protection of American forests. He was one of the founders of The Society of American Foresters.

When Roosevelt established the Forest Service in 1905, he appointed Pinchot to be the head of this new agency where Pinchot encouraged the principles of managing the forest for the benefit of both human needs and the forest environment, promoting a philosophy he called “wise use.”

During his tenure at the Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot oversaw the increase in federally managed forest land from 56 million acres in 1905 to 172 million acres by 1910.

George Bird Grinnell: Protector of American Bison

George Bird Grinnell was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1849 and studied zoology at Yale University. He soon became a leader of the nascent American conservation movement as a writer, naturalist, and anthropologist studying Native American culture. One of his most lasting contributions was protecting the American bison from extinction.

As a writer, Grinnell focused on the history and way of life of Native Americans and the loss of bison, mule deer, and elk in Yellowstone Park. He was also the editor for 35 years at the magazine Field and Stream. An expose´ on game poaching in Yellowstone published there resulted in Congress enacting the Yellowstone Park Protection Act of 1894.

Field and Stream was immensely popular with the American public. The magazine educated readers about conservation and the damage done by hunting for profit while also promoting sports hunting, fishing, and canoeing. The publication helped found the National Audubon Society, an organization dedicated to protecting birds.

Ding Darling: Cartoonist and Hunter

Ding Darling was well-known for creating editorial cartoons highlighting many issues, including conservation. Darling was an avid hunter and angler, and living near the Midwestern prairie he saw how the loss of habitat and market hunting were destroying the environment he loved. He was a friend of Teddy Roosevelt and drew a cartoon in 1901 in support of Roosevelt’s plan to create the National Forest Service.

Darling’s also used his artistic talents to help design the first Duck Stamp. Later, Darling designed the Blue Goose image which indicates national wildlife refuge lands.

In 1934, Darling was appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt to be Director of the U.S. Biological Survey, now called U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, where he became known as “the best friend a duck ever had.”

Ding Darling’s contribution to conservation is honored by the Ding Darling Wildlife Society and the Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida where he loved going to watch birds. 

Sources and Hyperlinks: