Early Conservation Efforts (1860s): In the early 19th century, American politicians and philosophers, such as Thomas Jefferson and George Perkins Marsh, began to recognize the need to conserve natural resources and protect wildlife. Marsh’s 1864 book “Man and Nature” is considered one of the first comprehensive works on conservation.
Creation of Yellowstone (1872): The creation of Yellowstone marked a new era of conservation as the first national park in the world. The park encompasses over 2 million acres of wilderness and is home to a rich diversity of wildlife. Yellowstone remains a popular destination and continues to be an iconic symbol of conservation and natural beauty.
Creation of the U.S. Forest Service (1905): The creation of the Forest Service was a response to growing concerns about the degradation of the country’s forested lands and the need for more effective management of these valuable resources. Today, the Forest Service manages over 193 million acres of public lands and provides a wide range of services, including recreation, timber production, and conservation of wildlife habitat.
Creation of the National Park Service (1916): In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act, establishing the National Park Service (NPS) and creating a system of national parks and monuments to protect and preserve America’s most important natural and cultural resources.
Founding of the CCC (1933): During the economic devastation of the Great Depression and The Dust Bowl, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), put millions of unemployed Americans to work conserving and restoring natural resources.
Founding of the SCS (NRCS) (1935): The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), formerly known as the Soil Conservation Service, is an agency within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).The NRCS is responsible for helping farmers and landowners conserve, maintain, and improve natural resources, as well as providing technical and financial assistance to help landowners implement conservation practices.
Expansion of the National Park Service (1940-1960): During these two decades multiple national parks were founded including Olympic (WA), Grand Teton (WY), & Isle Royale (MI), also including the creation of National Seashores, such as Point Reyes (CA) and Cape Cod (MA). Other parks were expanded including Yosemite (CA), Acadia (ME), Glacier (MT), Mount Rainier (WA), and Crater Lake (OR) National Parks.
The Clean Air Act (1963): This legislation established federal regulations for controlling air pollution, which had become a growing concern. Prior to the act, there were few regulations in place to control air pollution, and many cities were plagued by smog, haze, and other forms of air pollution.
Creation of the EPA (1970): President Nixon established the EPA agency to enforce federal protections for threatened and endangered species which has helped to conserve many of the country’s most vulnerable species. The EPA has broad authority to regulate air and water pollution, manage hazardous waste, and enforce environmental laws.
The Clean Water Act (1972): The CWA was enacted to regulate the discharge of pollutants into the nation’s surface waters, including lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands. It sets water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters and gives the EPA the authority to enforce these standards.
Endangered Species Act (1973): In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act, establishing the National Park Service (NPS) and creating a system of national parks and monuments to protect and preserve America’s most important natural and cultural resources.
North American Wetlands Conservation Act (1989): This act provided funding for the conservation of wetland habitats in North America and helped to protect critical habitats for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species.
Energy Policy Act (2005): Enacted to promote energy production, increase energy efficiency, and address a range of energy-related issues, it contains a number of provisions that are designed to support the development and use of various energy sources, including renewable energy, natural gas, and nuclear power.
America’s Great Outdoors Initiative (2010): Designed to promote and support conservation and outdoor recreation efforts across the United States, and to build on America’s long history of conservation and outdoor heritage.