“We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Our twenty-sixth president understood what an amazing gift America’s natural resources are. During his presidency, he created the United State Forest Service and established 228 national forests, parks, game preserves, monuments and federal bird reserves, protecting approximately 230 million acres of public land. These parks are still visited today.*
In fact, 2016 was the 100 year anniversary of the National Parks Service, and in that year they saw record breaking visitation numbers: 350 million visits–a seven percent increase from the previous year. America is host to a wealth of natural beauty, covering a vast array of different ecological areas–and these places are not just vacation destinations, they are a key part of our home.**
Conservation land, open spaces, national and state parks and forests: these places are essential wildlife habitats, they are integral to an area’s climate adaptability, and they play a major role in the quality of life in their region. Anyone who has purchased a home will know: if your home is near a park, beach, lake or trail, it has increased value.
Too often, however, the desirability of these natural places leads to their endangerment. Conservation areas are crowded in by new developments; large open acreage is soon broken up and covered in real estate. The very things that make a place beautiful to live in are eaten away. As T. Roosevelt said:
“We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation.”
We are lucky, in the Ipswich River Watershed, to have so much conservation land protected from development–forever! Today (October 27th) is Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday–to celebrate, why not go out and enjoy some of the enchanting places of natural beauty in the watershed and reflect on how different this area would be without them.
*T. Roosevelt quotes and facts pulled from the National Park Service Webpage.
**National Park visitation data pulled from the National Parks Conservation Administration page.