As we observe Presidents Day, the National Park Foundation remembers the leaders who helped shape our nation’s public lands. The lessons of conservation and protection passed down by these presidents have given us the beautiful parks that we know and love.
Abraham Lincoln was the first president to set aside land for public use — that land would eventually become Yosemite National Park. Woodrow Wilson presided over the creation of the National Park Service.
But the president most closely associated with national parks is probably Theodore Roosevelt. An avid hunter and outdoorsman, President Roosevelt protected roughly 230 million acres of public land, including five national parks during his presidency.
The National Park Service has memorialized President Roosevelt in many locations:
- Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site in New York City
- Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site in Buffalo, New York
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota
- Sagamore Hill National Historic Site on Long Island, New York
- Theodore Roosevelt Island in the District of Columbia.
What’s more, visitors to Yellowstone National Park can enjoy the Roosevelt Lodge, named after our 26th president. And, of course, Theodore Roosevelt’s face appears on Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
Everyone who loves America’s national parks — nature lovers, sports enthusiasts, history buffs, hikers, campers, whatever — owe a debt to the presidents, public officials, and private citizens who made, and continue to make, our national parks the marvels they are.
Guest Contributor: National Parks Foundation