Thekkady, Through an Old Camera’s Lens

“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

We have commented elsewhere on the counterintuitive observation that hunters and fishermen are sometimes, perhaps even often, the best conservationists. (See Seth Inman’s posts from last autumn.) At least in the “North American Wildlife Conservation Model” established in the early 20th century it can be understood that way. Some environmentalists would call the slope between the two concepts a “slippery” one.

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States was a very public example of this. Approximately 230,000,000 acres of wilderness, including deserts, mountains, wetlands and forests were placed into the public trust under his presidency. I wrote about his importance to the early conservation movement in the U.S. in a post called The Natural. At the time I wrote that post I purposefully avoided using the archival photographs that portrayed Roosevelt’s long history of hunting, assuming it wouldn’t fit with our Conservation point of view. Continue reading

The Natural

Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir at Yosemite 1903

One hundred and fifty-two years after his birth, Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy as a conservationist lives on in the nearly 230 million acres of land he helped place under public protection.  During his 2 terms as the 26th President of the United States of America he established 150 National Forests, 51 Federal Bird Reservations, 5 National Parks, 18 National Monuments, 4 National Game Preserves, and 21 Reclamation Projects, in many cases designated the first of their kinds. Continue reading

October Air

National Geographic Magazine, Vol. 1

There must be something in the air.  Some Universal Energy of Inspiration that touches down in October, if not annually, then biannually for a brief moment in time. Or is it just coincidence that two events of such simple, yet great significance should have happened on the same date?

What had begun as an elite club for academics and wealthy travel enthusiasts was reorganized in January 1888 into  “a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.”  The National Geographic Society was incorporated a few weeks later and the first issue of the magazine was published as its official journal on October 1st.

William Morris Davis, often called the “father of American Geography” was an early member and contributor who wrote the introduction to Vol.1 of the newly minted magazine.

History became a science when it outgrew mere narration and searched for the causes of the facts narrated; when it ceased to accept old narratives as absolute records and judged them by criteria derived from our knowledge of human nature as we see it at present, but modified to accord with past conditions.

The society’s historic mission has continued for well over a hundred years, extending beyond the specifics of geography to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world’s cultural, historical, and natural resources.”

And so we come to conservation.  Continue reading