1901-1907

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  1901

  Congress passes what is known as the Right of Way Act, permitting the use of

  rights of way through forest reserves and national parks for electrical power,

  telephone and telegraph communication, and irrigation and water supply.

  Theodore Roosevelt becomes President of the United States upon the death of

  President McKinley on September 14, and conservation becomes a cornerstone of

  his domestic policy.

  President Theodore Roosevelt's First Annual Message outlines his goals of

  forest conservation and preservation (including the use of forest reserves as

  wildlife preserves), and the need for government-sponsored irrigation projects

  in the arid West.

  John Muir publishes Our National Parks, a beautifully-written portrait of some

  of the nation's great scenic wildernesses by their greatest defender; the book

  goes through a dozen printings and establishes Muir's reputation in the public

  mind.

  The American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society is founded in New York,

  developing out of the state-level Trustees of Scenic and Historic Places and

  Objects which had been founded by Andrew H. Green, president of the

  Commissioners of the State Reservation at Niagara, in 1895, and modelled after

  Britain's National Trust; the new organization advocates protection of both

  scenic places and historic sites throughout the nation, demonstrating--like

  the American Antiquities Act of 1906--the relationship between the movements

  for natural and cultural preservation in turn-of-the-century America.

  The periodical Country Life in America begins publication under the editorship

  of Liberty Hyde Bailey; its pragmatic celebration of the suburban pastoral

  soon brings it widespread popularity.

  1902

  Congress passes "An Act Appropriating the receipts from the sale and disposal

  of public lands in certain States and Territories to the construction of

  irrigation works for the reclamation of arid lands," known as the Newlands

  Reclamation Act in honor of its chief sponsor, Sen. Francis G. Newlands, which

  designates proceeds from the sale of public lands in sixteen Western states as

  a fund for the development of irrigation projects; settlers are to repay the

  costs of these projects, thus creating a permanent revolving fund. This Act

  commits the Federal government to support and, ultimately, control of the

  large-scale irrigation which transforms the landscape, economy, and social and

  political structure of much of the West.

  Congress passes a bill establishing Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.

  In one of a series of acts designed to regulate harvesting of Alaskan

  wildlife, Congress passes "An Act For the protection of game in Alaska, and

  for other purposes," known as the Alaska Game Act, protecting certain game

  animals in Alaska; these provisions are strengthened by an act amending the

  Alaska Game Act in 1908.

  Bernhard E. Fernow publishes The Economics of Forestry: A Reference Book for

  Students of Political Economy and Professional and Lay Students of Forestry, a

  comprehensive overview of forestry principles and their contemporary and

  historical relationship to public policy, written at a time when forestry

  practices were in the vanguard of conservationism.

  Reflecting the popular fascination with nature-based recreation and concern

  with wild nature as a resource for character development, Ernest Thompson

  Seton publishes a series of articles in the Ladies' Home Journal calling for

  the creation of a boys' organization to be named the Woodcraft Indians; this

  directly inspires Sir Robert Baden-Powell's founding of the Boy Scouts in

  Britain in 1908 and helps launch the scouting movement in the United States.

  John Wesley Powell dies in Maine, shortly after Congress passes the Newlands

  Reclamation Act.

  1903

  On March 10, President Roosevelt establishes a Federally-protected wildlife

  refuge by executive order setting aside Pelican Island on Indian River,

  Florida, as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds; it is the first

  of fifty-three wildlife sanctuaries Roosevelt creates while President, and

  establishes the precedent on which the system of national wildlife refuges

  will be based. Roosevelt's keen interest in birds and their conservation is

  documented by contemporary film footage of his visits to bird sanctuaries.

  Concern about the administration of public lands in the West, particularly the

  question of grazing leases for cattlemen, prompts the Roosevelt administration

  to appoint a Public Lands Commission to study and report on public lands

  issues; the Commission's members are W.A. Richards, F.H. Newell, and Gifford

  Pinchot.

  Congress passes a bill establishing Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota.

  Mary AustinThe Land of Little Rain, a classic celebration of the desert

  country of California.

  John Burroughs publishes an influential essay in the Atlantic Monthly, "Real

  and Sham Natural History," attacking sentimental popular nature-writers such

  as Ernest Thompson Seton and William J. Long as "nature fakers;" Roosevelt

  later joins the controversy in support of Burroughs.

  1904

  The American Civic Association is founded June 10 by merging the American Park

  and Outdoor Art Association with the American League for Civic Improvement;

  under the leadership of J. Horace McFarland, a civic activist and newspaperman

  from Harrisburg, Pa., its activities include leading campaigns for the

  creation and protection of national, state, and municipal parks.

  Congress passes a bill which leads to the establishment of Sullys Hill

  National Park, North Dakota.

  1905

  Acting under the influence of Gifford Pinchot, The American Forestry

  Association sponsors the American Forest Congress in Washington; attended by

  leaders of lumbering, mining, grazing, and irrigation industries and by

  leaders in education and government, the Congress underscores the prominence

  of questions of natural resource management in the economic concerns of the

  nation; the Conference's Proceedings are published later in the same year.

  In accordance with one of the Forest Congress's principal recommendations,

  Gifford Pinchot succeeds in having the oversight of national forest reserves

  transferred from the Department of Interior (General Land Office) to his own

  jurisdiction, the Bureau of Forestry (formerly known as the Division of

  Forestry) in the Department of Agriculture, and transforms the Bureau into the

  Forest Service; this is accomplished by "An Act Providing for the transfer of

  forest reserves from the Department of Interior to the Department of

  Agriculture", known as the Transfer Act of 1905. This change also symbolizes a

  shift of emphasis from preservation to scientific forestry, and Pinchot's

  dominance in public conservation policy.

  The Public Lands Commission appointed by by President Roosevelt publishes its

  by Report, recommending adjustments in the law and administrative procedure

  governing Federally-held lands based on a belief in the value of

  rationally-managed public control of natural resources.

  Congress passes a by "Joint Resolution Accepting the recession by the State of

  California of the Yosemite Valley Grant and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove in the

  Yosemite National Park," appropriating $20,000 for the re-acquisition of these

  lands by the Federal government; this transaction is confirmed by another by

  Joint Resolution enacted in 1906, which reconfigures the boundaries of

  Yosemite National Park.

  J. Horace McFarland, President of the American Civic Association, publishes a

  series of articles in Ladies' Home Journal advocating preservation of Niagara

  Falls from the threat posed by water power demands, which generates a huge

  favorable response from readers and inaugurates a campaign that provokes the

  Congressional action on Niagara of the following year.

  The National Association of Audubon Societies for the Protection of Wild Birds

  and Animals is founded in New York, officially uniting the numerous state

  groups which have sprung up since 1896, and establishing a strong national

  voice for conservation. (In 1940, the organization's name was changed to the

  National Audubon Society.)

  Nathaniel Southgate Shaler publishes by Man and the Earth, a prophetic

  scientific and philosophical exploration of mankind's relationship with the

  earth which anticipates the writings of such figures as by Liberty Hyde Bailey

  and, much later, Aldo Leopold; Shaler predicts that in the future humanity's

  relations with the earth will be characterized by a new consciousness of man's

  ethical responsibility to the natural world, and he directs attention to

  problems of ecology, biodiversity loss, and the need for worldwide efforts

  toward scenic and wildlife preservation.

  1906

  Congress passes by "An Act For the preservation of American antiquities,"

  known as the American Antiquities Act, authorizing the President to establish

  national monuments for the preservation of features of historic, prehistoric,

  and scientific interest, and forbidding unauthorized injury of objects of

  antiquity.

  by President Roosevelt issues a by Presidential Proclamation establishing

  Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming, as the nation's first National

  Monument; later in the year, he issues another by Proclamation, establishing

  Petrified Forest National Monument, Arizona.

  Congress passes by a bill establishing Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, and

  by a Resolution designating Sulphur Springs Reservation, Oklahoma, as Platt

  National Park.

  Congress passes by "An Act To extend the irrigation Act to the State of

  Texas," extending the provisions of by the Newlands Act to Texas.

  Responding to the campaign of public concern about the depletion of Niagara

  Falls orchestrated by J. Horace McFarland and supported by the Sierra Club and

  the Appalachian Mountain Club, Congress passes both a by Joint Resolution

  instructing the American representatives to an international commission on

  Niagara to work with their Canadian counterparts to preserve the Falls; and by

  "An Act For the control and regulation of the waters of Niagara River, for the

  preservation of Niagara Falls, and for other purposes," restricting the

  diversion of water from the sources of the Falls and requesting the President

  to undertake the necessary treaty negotiations to guarantee the Falls'

  protection by both the United States and Canada; though it permits greater

  water diversion than preservationists like McFarland had hoped, a final treaty

  is signed in 1909 which limits the total amount of water diverted from the

  Falls by both nations to 56,000 cubic feet per second, a limitation which

  remains in effect until 1950.

  This year and the following, by Gifford Pinchot prepares bills for Congress

  placing the national parks under the Forest Service so that they may be open

  for resource development; these measures are successfully opposed by by Rep.

  John F. Lacey, Chairman of the House Public Lands Committee and Congressional

  spokesman for the preservationist approach to conservation; Pinchot's effort

  ultimately backfires by sparking the preservationists' campaign to establish a

  permanent separate bureau to administer the national parks.

  1907

  John Muir publishes "The Tuolumne Yosemite in Danger" in Outlook, the opening

  salvo in his campaign to save Hetch Hetchy Valley from damming as a reservoir

  for San Francisco; the campaign becomes a national focus for conservation

  efforts and thought during the next several years, and signals the ideological

  bifurcation of the conservation movement between advocates of preservationist

  conservationism (those who seek to retain natural areas in their "natural"

  state) and advocates of utilitarian conservationism (those who seek to manage

  the sustainable harvesting of natural resources for human benefit).

  Through provisions embedded in the Forest Service sub-section of an

  Agriculture appropriations act, Congress renames Forest Reserves "National

  Forests," and forbids their further creation or enlargement in six Western

  states (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, or Wyoming), except by

  act of Congress; when the bill passes Congress on February 25, Pinchot and his

  staff work feverishly to identify sixteen million acres of forest in these six

  states which are designated as national forests by President Roosevelt before

  he signs the bill into law on March 4.

  Heralding the growth of organized opposition to conservation policy, the

  Colorado legislature and Governor Henry Buchtel sponsor the Denver Public

  Lands Convention; it is attended by representatives of Western ranching and

  mining interests who call for cession of public lands to the states and

  restriction of national forests; the Convention's Proceedings are published

  later in the same year.

  President Roosevelt issues a Proclamation establishing Cinder Cone National

  Monument, and a Proclamation establishing Lassen Peak National Monument, both

  in California.

  President Roosevelt appoints an Inland Waterways Commission to study the

  nation's declining river navigation and recommend measures to revive it; the

  Commission's Report, submitted by the President to Congress the following

  year, supports a carefully planned multi-purpose approach to the use and

  development of the nation's rivers, to be coordinated by a single executive

  agency.

  In his Seventh Annual Message, President Roosevelt makes the case for

  utilitarian conservationism especially forcefully, asserting that "the

  conservation of our natural resources and their proper use constitute the

  fundamental problem which underlies almost every other problem of our National

  life," and that his administration has been trying "to substitute a planned

  and orderly development of our resources in place of a haphazard striving for

  immediate profit."

  At the request of the Massachusetts legislature, with which he worked to

  prepare model bird-protection laws, ornithologist Edward Howe Forbush

  publishes Useful Birds and Their Protection, the first major work by an

  American to analyze the economic importance of birds and the strategies

  necessary for their protection.

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