There were many intellectuals in the United States in the early and mid 19th century who favored conservation and protection of the environment.President Ulysses S. Grant agreed to create Yellowstone National Park in 1872. Setting aside two million acres of forest, the United States became the first country to implement a large-scale preservation program. Future presidents Benjamin Harrison and Grover
Cleveland would also divert millions of acres to preservation.
In 1832, George Catlin proposed that all land still owned by the government be used as a giant
national park. Others, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Horace Greeley, argued for the preservation of the environment.
George Marsh wrote Man and Nature in 1864, a book that greatly influenced the debate over the environment. He challenged the idea that the United States' resources were inexhaustible. Later, he would greatly influence President Theodore Roosevelt.
As the United States industrialized and developed, a new group of conservationists emerged. This group included Franklin Hough, John Muir, Carl Schurz, Gifford Pinchot, Theodore Roosevelt, and others.
Theodore Roosevelt intensified preservation efforts during his term. Congress created the U.S. Forest Service, and Roosevelt appointed Gifford Pinchot as its head.
In all, Roosevelt withdrew about 80 million acres to be used as conservation areas. He took land that would later be used in the National Park System.
The National Park System
was created in 1912. It included the National Park Service, a department to oversee the parks, which would be headed by Stephen Mather.Ulysses S. Grant