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05/18/2007

The First Conservationist

Last week I had a piece on the growing debate over ethanol,
particularly the corn-based variety, but over the next few weeks I
want to extend the environmental theme a bit. This certainly
isn’t a stretch for a column titled “Wall Street History” as the
topic has become big business, whether you are talking about
alternative fuels, solar, wind power, and all manner of emerging
businesses and markets. As I’ve noted before, my own
investments now encompass solar, wind, biodiesel and water.

But today, I want to take a look back at the first real champion of
conservation and the environment in our country, Theodore
Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States (1901-09).

TR is better known in some circles for his days as a Rough Rider
and the Spanish-American War, bringing the Panama Canal to
fruition, America’s increased role on the foreign policy front in
general, and as a corporate trustbuster.

But in the book “The Growth of the American Republic,” the
authors have this to say.

“Unquestionably the most important achievement of the
Roosevelt administrations came in the conservation of natural
resources. Roosevelt’s love of nature and knowledge of the West
gave him a sentimental yet highly intelligent interest in the
preservation of soil, water, and forest. Even more important, he
understood the need to rely on technicians to develop resource
policy. It was high time to put some brake on the greedy and
wasteful destruction of natural resources that was encouraged by
existing laws. Of the original 800 million acres of virgin forest,
less than 200 million remained when Roosevelt came to the
presidency; four-fifths of the timber in this country was in
private hands, and 10 percent of this was owned by the Southern
Pacific, the Northern Pacific, and the Weyerhaeuser Timber
Company. The mineral resources of the country, too, had long
been exploited as if inexhaustible. The conservationists sought
both to halt the waste of such resources and to develop scientific
recommendations for their use.”

Congress passed the Forest Reserve Act in 1891, authorizing the
president to set aside timber lands, and Benjamin Harrison,
Grover Cleveland, and William McKinley withdrew a collective
45 million acres. But, “Despite this promising beginning, the
process of exploitation was going on more rapidly than that of
conservation when Roosevelt assumed office.”

“Taking advantage of the law of 1891, Roosevelt set aside almost
150 million acres of unsold government timber land as national
forest reserve, and on the suggestion of Senator Robert La
Follette withdrew from public entry some 85 millions more in
Alaska and the Northwest The discovery of a gigantic system
of fraud by which railroads, lumber companies, and ranchers
were looting and devastating the public reserve enabled the
President to obtain authority to transfer the national forests to the
Department of Agriculture, whose forest bureau, under the far-
sighted Gifford Pinchot, administered them on scientific
principles.”

TR was successful in arousing public support over the need for
conservation, and among his many achievements were various
grand irrigation projects for the West, including Roosevelt dam
in Arizona, Hoover dam on the Colorado River, and Grand
Coulee on the Columbia river. TR also created five new national
parks together with four game preserves and over fifty wild bird
refuges. Senator La Follette said of him: “His greatest work was
actually beginning a world movement to staying terrestrial
waste.”

Alas, many of those who followed him fell woefully short in
carrying out Roosevelt’s dreams.

But in perusing a book titled “Words That Shook the World,” I
came across a May 6, 1903, speech that Teddy Roosevelt gave at
the Grand Canyon. Author Richard Greene notes:

“On his first visit to the Grand Canyon and Arizona, President
Roosevelt’s train stopped near the edge of the massive canyon
carved out by the rushing Colorado River. Eight hundred people
were waiting for him

“The very short speech he delivered breaks ground in two
important ways. It establishes the theme of conservation
(recognizing both the need to ‘preserve’ and at the same time to
‘use’ the land and its resources), and marks the first time that
Roosevelt used the phrase ‘square deal,’ which became a
cornerstone of his administration’s philosophy. To Roosevelt
those words embodied the philosophy that government had to be
fair and honest in its dealings with individuals and not simply the
protector of business and special interests.”

[Excerpts]

Mr. Governor, and you, My Fellow Citizens:

I have never been in Arizona before. It is one of the regions
from which I expect most development through the wise action
of the National Congress in passing the irrigation act. The first
and biggest experiment now in view under that act is the one that
we are trying in Arizona. I look forward to the effects of
irrigation partly as applied by and through the government, still
more as applied by individuals profiting by the example of the
government, and possibly by help from it – I look forward to the
effects of irrigation as being of greater consequence to all this
region of country in the next fifty years than any other material
movement whatsoever.

In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so far
as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest
of the world. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection
with it in your own interest and in the interest of the country – to
keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I was delighted to
learn of the wisdom of the Santa Fe railroad people in deciding
not to build their hotel on the brink of the canyon. I hope that
you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a
hotel, or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the
sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon.

Leave it as it is. You can not improve on it.

[Editor Richard Greene: “These two short sentences say it all:
that the Grand Canyon is God’s work, that it is divine, that it is
irreplaceable, that human beings can never reproduce or improve
on nature. All in 11 words!”]

The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.
What you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s
children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great
sights which every American if he can travel at all should see.

We have gotten past the stage, my fellow-citizens, when we are
to be pardoned if we treat any part of our country as something to
be skinned for two or three years for the use of the present
generation, whether it is the forest, the water, the scenery.
Whatever it is handle it so that your children’s children will get
the benefit of it.

If you deal with irrigation, apply it under circumstances that will
make it of benefit, not to the speculator who hopes to get profit
out of it for two or three years, but handle it so that it will be of
use to the home-maker, to the man who comes to live here, and
to have his children stay after him. Keep the forests in the same
way. Preserve the forests by use; preserve them for the
ranchman and the stockman, for the people of the Territory, for
the people of the region round about. Preserve them for that use,
but use them so that they will not be squandered, that they will
not be wasted, so that they will be of benefit to the Arizona of
1953 as well as the Arizona of 1903.

To the Indians here I want to say a word of welcome. In my
regiment I had a good many Indians. They were good enough to
fight and to die, and they are good enough to have me treat them
exactly as squarely as any white man. There are many problems
in connection with them. We must save them from corruption
and from brutality; and I regret to say that at times we must save
them from unregulated Eastern philanthropy. All I ask is a
square deal for every man. Give him a fair chance. Do not let
him wrong any one, and do not let him be wronged.

I believe in you. I am glad to see you. I wish you well with all
my heart, and I know that your future will justify all the hopes
we have.

[Editor Richard Greene says of this last passage: “TR’s personal
passions and human compassion made him a great leader as well
as a compelling speaker. Here, off the top of his head, he
digresses from irrigation policy to conservation and now to his
personal perspective on the Indians who had come to greet him.
In acknowledging them for their heroic efforts, he may seem to
contemporary ears paternalistic, but in 1903 his advocacy of
giving ‘Indians’ a ‘square deal’ was considered quite
progressive.”]

Sources:

Louis Auchincloss, “Theodore Roosevelt”
Richard Greene, “Words That Shook the World”
Samuel Eliot Morrison, Henry Steele Commager and William E.
Leuchtenburg, “The Growth of the American Republic”

More on the environment, mostly from the energy angle, next
week.

Brian Trumbore



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-05/18/2007-      
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Wall Street History

05/18/2007

The First Conservationist

Last week I had a piece on the growing debate over ethanol,
particularly the corn-based variety, but over the next few weeks I
want to extend the environmental theme a bit. This certainly
isn’t a stretch for a column titled “Wall Street History” as the
topic has become big business, whether you are talking about
alternative fuels, solar, wind power, and all manner of emerging
businesses and markets. As I’ve noted before, my own
investments now encompass solar, wind, biodiesel and water.

But today, I want to take a look back at the first real champion of
conservation and the environment in our country, Theodore
Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States (1901-09).

TR is better known in some circles for his days as a Rough Rider
and the Spanish-American War, bringing the Panama Canal to
fruition, America’s increased role on the foreign policy front in
general, and as a corporate trustbuster.

But in the book “The Growth of the American Republic,” the
authors have this to say.

“Unquestionably the most important achievement of the
Roosevelt administrations came in the conservation of natural
resources. Roosevelt’s love of nature and knowledge of the West
gave him a sentimental yet highly intelligent interest in the
preservation of soil, water, and forest. Even more important, he
understood the need to rely on technicians to develop resource
policy. It was high time to put some brake on the greedy and
wasteful destruction of natural resources that was encouraged by
existing laws. Of the original 800 million acres of virgin forest,
less than 200 million remained when Roosevelt came to the
presidency; four-fifths of the timber in this country was in
private hands, and 10 percent of this was owned by the Southern
Pacific, the Northern Pacific, and the Weyerhaeuser Timber
Company. The mineral resources of the country, too, had long
been exploited as if inexhaustible. The conservationists sought
both to halt the waste of such resources and to develop scientific
recommendations for their use.”

Congress passed the Forest Reserve Act in 1891, authorizing the
president to set aside timber lands, and Benjamin Harrison,
Grover Cleveland, and William McKinley withdrew a collective
45 million acres. But, “Despite this promising beginning, the
process of exploitation was going on more rapidly than that of
conservation when Roosevelt assumed office.”

“Taking advantage of the law of 1891, Roosevelt set aside almost
150 million acres of unsold government timber land as national
forest reserve, and on the suggestion of Senator Robert La
Follette withdrew from public entry some 85 millions more in
Alaska and the Northwest The discovery of a gigantic system
of fraud by which railroads, lumber companies, and ranchers
were looting and devastating the public reserve enabled the
President to obtain authority to transfer the national forests to the
Department of Agriculture, whose forest bureau, under the far-
sighted Gifford Pinchot, administered them on scientific
principles.”

TR was successful in arousing public support over the need for
conservation, and among his many achievements were various
grand irrigation projects for the West, including Roosevelt dam
in Arizona, Hoover dam on the Colorado River, and Grand
Coulee on the Columbia river. TR also created five new national
parks together with four game preserves and over fifty wild bird
refuges. Senator La Follette said of him: “His greatest work was
actually beginning a world movement to staying terrestrial
waste.”

Alas, many of those who followed him fell woefully short in
carrying out Roosevelt’s dreams.

But in perusing a book titled “Words That Shook the World,” I
came across a May 6, 1903, speech that Teddy Roosevelt gave at
the Grand Canyon. Author Richard Greene notes:

“On his first visit to the Grand Canyon and Arizona, President
Roosevelt’s train stopped near the edge of the massive canyon
carved out by the rushing Colorado River. Eight hundred people
were waiting for him

“The very short speech he delivered breaks ground in two
important ways. It establishes the theme of conservation
(recognizing both the need to ‘preserve’ and at the same time to
‘use’ the land and its resources), and marks the first time that
Roosevelt used the phrase ‘square deal,’ which became a
cornerstone of his administration’s philosophy. To Roosevelt
those words embodied the philosophy that government had to be
fair and honest in its dealings with individuals and not simply the
protector of business and special interests.”

[Excerpts]

Mr. Governor, and you, My Fellow Citizens:

I have never been in Arizona before. It is one of the regions
from which I expect most development through the wise action
of the National Congress in passing the irrigation act. The first
and biggest experiment now in view under that act is the one that
we are trying in Arizona. I look forward to the effects of
irrigation partly as applied by and through the government, still
more as applied by individuals profiting by the example of the
government, and possibly by help from it – I look forward to the
effects of irrigation as being of greater consequence to all this
region of country in the next fifty years than any other material
movement whatsoever.

In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so far
as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest
of the world. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection
with it in your own interest and in the interest of the country – to
keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I was delighted to
learn of the wisdom of the Santa Fe railroad people in deciding
not to build their hotel on the brink of the canyon. I hope that
you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a
hotel, or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the
sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon.

Leave it as it is. You can not improve on it.

[Editor Richard Greene: “These two short sentences say it all:
that the Grand Canyon is God’s work, that it is divine, that it is
irreplaceable, that human beings can never reproduce or improve
on nature. All in 11 words!”]

The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.
What you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s
children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great
sights which every American if he can travel at all should see.

We have gotten past the stage, my fellow-citizens, when we are
to be pardoned if we treat any part of our country as something to
be skinned for two or three years for the use of the present
generation, whether it is the forest, the water, the scenery.
Whatever it is handle it so that your children’s children will get
the benefit of it.

If you deal with irrigation, apply it under circumstances that will
make it of benefit, not to the speculator who hopes to get profit
out of it for two or three years, but handle it so that it will be of
use to the home-maker, to the man who comes to live here, and
to have his children stay after him. Keep the forests in the same
way. Preserve the forests by use; preserve them for the
ranchman and the stockman, for the people of the Territory, for
the people of the region round about. Preserve them for that use,
but use them so that they will not be squandered, that they will
not be wasted, so that they will be of benefit to the Arizona of
1953 as well as the Arizona of 1903.

To the Indians here I want to say a word of welcome. In my
regiment I had a good many Indians. They were good enough to
fight and to die, and they are good enough to have me treat them
exactly as squarely as any white man. There are many problems
in connection with them. We must save them from corruption
and from brutality; and I regret to say that at times we must save
them from unregulated Eastern philanthropy. All I ask is a
square deal for every man. Give him a fair chance. Do not let
him wrong any one, and do not let him be wronged.

I believe in you. I am glad to see you. I wish you well with all
my heart, and I know that your future will justify all the hopes
we have.

[Editor Richard Greene says of this last passage: “TR’s personal
passions and human compassion made him a great leader as well
as a compelling speaker. Here, off the top of his head, he
digresses from irrigation policy to conservation and now to his
personal perspective on the Indians who had come to greet him.
In acknowledging them for their heroic efforts, he may seem to
contemporary ears paternalistic, but in 1903 his advocacy of
giving ‘Indians’ a ‘square deal’ was considered quite
progressive.”]

Sources:

Louis Auchincloss, “Theodore Roosevelt”
Richard Greene, “Words That Shook the World”
Samuel Eliot Morrison, Henry Steele Commager and William E.
Leuchtenburg, “The Growth of the American Republic”

More on the environment, mostly from the energy angle, next
week.

Brian Trumbore