President Theodore Roosevelt didn't invent conservation, but at a crucial point in history he propelled the conservation movement forward and into the public consciousness. Through the Boone and Crockett Club, established by Roosevelt as a society of big-game hunters in the late 1800s, Roosevelt fought at first for military protection of the timber and the wildlife on the newly-created national forest reserves. When he became President in 1901, his interest in the outdoors translated into policy.
In his inaugural address he asked Congress to set up a federal forestry bureau, which led to establishment of the U.S. Forest Service in 1905. In 1903 he created the first national wildlife refuge. In 1904, Roosevelt established 51 refuges, elevated the Biological Survey to a strong bureau with police powers, created three national parks, and set aside dozens of national monuments. National forest acreage increased from 56 million acres in 1905 to 148 million when he left office.
At the end of Roosevelt's presidency, Wisconsin Senator Robert La Follette summed up Roosevelt's biggest contribution to the United States and its people: "His greatest work was actually beginning a world movement for staying terrestrial waste and saving for the human race the things upon which alone a great and peaceful and progressive and happy race can be founded."
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