Theodore Roosevelt is often considered the "conservationist president." In the North Dakota Badlands, Roosevelt is remembered with a national park that bears his name and honors the memory of the original conservationist.
Theodore Roosevelt first came to the Badlands in September 1883. A sportsman all his life, Roosevelt sought a chance to hunt the big game of North America before they disappeared. Although an avid hunter, his writings are imbued with a lament for the loss of species and habitat.
Over time, conservation increasingly became one of Roosevelt's main concerns. As president, his introduction of the United States Forest Service (USFS) helped establish 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, 4 national game preserves, and 5 national parks.
The American Antiquities Act, enacted in 1906, empowered Roosevelt's administration even further in the fight for conservation. During his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt protected approximately 230 million acres of public land. Roosevelt used the law to proclaim 18 national monuments.
The Father of Conservation
Through a lifelong barrage of policy and legislation, Roosevelt turned America’s wild landscape into its most enduring treasure. His vision of nature was deeply democratic; Roosevelt conceived of our forests, mountains, prairies and deserts as sacred spaces where future Americans of different backgrounds and beliefs could visit.