Period 2

The Problem(s)

The environment was thought as an inexhaustible resource. We didn’t think that it would ever run out.
Thousands of acres of forestland were being used for lumber. By 1900 a quarter of the forests were left. Overuse of resources was astonishing. Mining companies would take out the minerals without paying any attention to the land around their mines. The surrounding area would be destroyed. Coal mines were extremely destructive along with hydraulic mines. As oil refineries drilled for oil natural gas would escape from the earth without and concern. No one cared about how they were polluting the earth. Pollution was horrible. Waste and unneeded materials were dumped into rivers and streams. In addition the wildlife wasn’t being preserved. It wasn’t a point of interest.
As industry grew so did the consumption of resources, but there were few efforts to stop it. The National Forest Bureau had given the Presdent the power to withdraw timber from sale, and a few national and state parks had been established, but conservation was just simply not an important issue to the public at the time.

The Solution(s)

A solution to the problem of overusing resources was to hold a conference on conservation. The conference was held at the White House and was specifically designed to resolve issues like conserving minerals, water resources, land, and timber. The conference was suggested by the Inland Water Ways Committee. 52 senators attended along with members of congress and many conservationists. The conference raised awareness about the environment and led to formation of National Conservation Commission.
Another way to protect animals and land is through parks and wildlife sanctuaries. One group of people that wanted to help preserve these parks and sanctuaries was the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club was formed by John Muir, a very influential conservationist. The Sierra Club was prominent and still is very involved in the environmental movement. A specific issue The Sierra Club was concerned about was stopping the government from blocking a dam in Yosemite National Park. Unfortunately, the Sierra Club was unsuccessful and Yosemite National Park lost a lot of land.

The Images

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John Muir was the founder of the Sierra club, a conservationalist organization.
John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt were two of the biggest conversationalists in the country.
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Factories spewed smoke and waste into the air causing horrible pollution in cities.

The Primary Sources

Meanwhile, vast holdings of these resources were acquired by those of greater foresight than their neighbors before it was generally realized that they possessed value in themselves; and in this way large interests, assuming monopolistic proportions, grew up, with greater enrichment to their holders than the world had seen before, and with the motive of immediate profit, with no concern for the future or thought of the permanent benefit of country and people, a wasteful and profligate use of the resources began and has continued." - From The Evolution of the Conservative Movement, a report published by The National Conservation Committee
"With the steady growth in population and the still more rapid increase in consumption, our people will hereafter make greater and not less demands per capita upon all the natural resources for their livelihood, comfort, and convenience. It is high time to realize that our responsibility to the coming millions is like that of parents to their children, and that in wasting our resources we are wronging our descendants." Excerpt is from a letter written by President Theodore Roosevelt

The Citations

"Governors' Conference on the Environment." American History. 2007. ABC-CLIO. 21 Feb. 2007

"John Muir." American History. 2007. ABC-CLIO. 21 Feb. 2007 <>

Pollution picture taken from <> Author unknown. Accessed on February 21, 2007

President Theodor Roosevelt, "A Letter From President Roosevelt." 21 Feb 2007

Progressive Era Wiki Handout

"Sierra Club." American History. 2007. ABC-CLIO. 21 Feb. 2007 "The Evolution of the Conservation Movement." National Conservation Commission. 21 Feb 2007