Gifford Pinchot: The First Conservationalist
In today’s society, green is the new black. America is rapidly becoming more and more conscientious of the environment as time wears on; when a tree is cut down, two trees must be planted. Although the revitalization of nature has only recently become a hot-button issue, deforestation became a concern as early as the early 1900s. The head of the United States Forest service at the time, Gifford Pinchot, was the very first environmentalist. He was extremely concerned for the well-being of nature and its resources. Today, America displays a similar concern over nature, but such concern is more controversial now than it was then. Many environmentalists believe that government regulation regarding the environment ought to be more stringent, but others argue that this would conflict with America’s free enterprise system. From the turn of the 20th century to the turn of the 21st century, the environment has been a largely contentious issue in the United States, due to differing views from both sides of the argument.
Gifford Pinchot had been working under the Division of Forestry since 1888, but it wasn’t until 1905 that he began working in the United States Forest Service. He became the chief of this new Forest Service in the same year, during Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency. The Forest Service operated from the Department of Agriculture during this time, though previously it had operated from the Department of the Interior. Today, the Forest Service still runs from the Department of Agriculture.
Pinchot faced divergence with the secretary of the Interior Richard Ballinger starting in 1909. Ballinger, according to Pinchot, had restored some 3 million acres of land previously laid aside as sanctuaries for private business interests. Pinchot dove right into controversy moments after officially accusing Ballinger of doing this. Convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that Ballinger intended to “stop the...
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