Theodore Roosevelt

The United States is home to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world. From towering mountains to vast prairies, these lands are not only a source of beauty but also play an important role in preserving our environment. One man who recognized this importance was Theodore Roosevelt, whose tie to conservation has left a lasting impact on our country.

Early Life

Before delving into his contributions to conservation, it is important to understand how Roosevelt developed his passion for nature. As a child, he suffered from asthma and spent much of his time outdoors as recommended by doctors at that time. While we now know this form of treatment is ineffective, this exposure did spark a love in Teddy for exploring and observing wildlife. 

National Park Expansion

One of Roosevelt’s greatest achievements was establishing national parks across the country. In 1903, guided by John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt camped at Yosemite National Park in California for three days inspiring an abundance of efforts towards environmental protection. During his presidency, he designated five new national parks: Crater Lake in Oregon, Wind Cave in South Dakota, Sullys Hill in North Dakota, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and Platt in Oklahoma. In addition, he expanded federal protection of existing parks including Yosemite, and created national monuments like Devil’s Tower. His efforts were driven by the belief that these protected areas would provide future generations with opportunities for recreation while preserving their natural state.

National Wildlife Refuge System

In addition to national parks, Roosevelt also played a crucial role in creating the National Wildlife Refuge System which protects over 95 million acres of land today. His vision was to establish safe havens for animals where they could thrive without human interference. This system includes various types of habitats ranging from wetlands to forests and provides protection for endangered species like bald eagles and grizzly bears.


Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy lives on even after more than a century since his time as president ended. His efforts have had a significant impact on modern-day conservation practices worldwide. His establishment of protected areas paved the way for future presidents to continue expanding upon them – leading to over 400 units within the National Parks System today! The regulations put in place during his presidency are still followed by government agencies responsible for managing public lands.

Thanks to Theodore Roosevelt’s vision and determination towards preservation; we can enjoy some of America’s most beautiful landscapes today without fear of their destruction or depletion. His contributions have set an example for future leaders around the world to prioritize conservation efforts for the betterment of our planet.

Inspired by the foundational visionary towards conservation, the “theo” in theoleo came from Theodore Roosevelt.

President Theodore Roosevelt with Superintendent Major John Pitcher at Liberty Cap in Yellowstone National Park Photo from the Library of Congress Featured on CBS News
Roosevelt at Yellowstone National Park Photo from the American Museum of Natural History

To learn more about Roosevelt’s contributions to conservation, visit National Park Service.