Trees Please

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Illustration of a yellow tree with green text on it on a green background

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Forest conservation has been a serious and contentious topic for most of the United States’ history. Early colonists and frontiersmen discovered a vast range of timber from coast to coast, estimated to be around 950 million acres. Over-exploitation of this seemingly limitless resource led to increasing concerns by the late 1800s, especially due to rapid industrial forest clearing. Presidents Benjamin Harrison and Theodore Roosevelt set aside large tracts of public land for conservation, through the creation of the National Parks and National Forests systems. 

A new wave of conservation efforts began in the 20th century after the damaging effects of climate change were becoming apparent. In 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency was founded and the first Earth Day occurred; the holiday continues to be celebrated every year as a way to spread awareness about climate concerns. As of 2023, only approximately two-thirds of the forest lands originally documented by early colonists are left in the United States.


Forest History Society. (n.d.). Introduction.

Minnesota Historical Society. (n.d.). Forest conservation. Forest History Center.

Catalog ID CA0320