Monday, July 4, 2011

America the Beautiful: Celebrating U.S. conservation efforts on Independence Day

On July 4th, 1776 the congressional approval of the Declaration of Independence severed direct ties between the United States and Great Britain. Since that time, we the people have celebrated the Fourth of July with family, fireworks, beer, and barbeques as a day of appreciation for this country's freedoms and accomplishments. So before the festivities begin, read about a few other reasons to have pride in the United States as not only protectors of its values and citizens, but also of land, water, and ecology.

For Purple Mountains Majesties

Mt. Whitney has an elevation of 14,505 ft and is the highest summit in the lower 48 states. Image provided by

One of the greatest achievements of the United States is its avid protection of land for the immeasurable tangible and intangible values it brings. A pioneer in environmental conservation and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, President Theodore Roosevelt once said "A nation that destroy its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people." He later went on to help protect 150 National Forests with friend and colleague, environmentalist John Muir; established the National Park Service; and passed the Antiquities Act of 1906 which protects landmarks and monuments of historical or scientific value.

The National Park Service today maintains approximately 84 million square acres of land and over 4.5 million square acres of oceans, lakes, and reservoirs. They are also joined by the Bureau of Land Management which maintains approximately 643 million square acres of surface land, 247 million square acres of which is protected as public land for recreation and conservation. The U.S. Forest Service also protects more than 192 million square acres of public land, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which manages approximately 150 million square acres of National Wildlife Refuges. These are only a few of the agencies responsible for protecting land. There are also state, local, and privately owned protected land. Seeing is believing.

'Til all Success be Nobleness

The Bald Eagle was successfully recovered and removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007. Image provided by

Beyond that of land, the United States has maintained continuous effort in protecting threatened and endangered species of both flora and fauna. Congress recognized in the Endangered Species Act of 1973 that "fish, wildlife, and plants are of esthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people." As of today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists 1,974 U.S. and foreign species as being threatened or endangered, 1,139 of which having active recovery plans. To date, the USFWS has aided in the recovery of 21 species including the Bald Eagle, American Alligator, Gray Whale, and Peregrine Falcon.

Maguire Daisy. Photo by Michelle Dela Cruz / NPS.

This year alone, we celebrate the recovery of two species: the Gray Wolf of the Northern Rocky Mountains and the Maguire Daisy. Gray Wolves are unfortunately still endangered in many other regions, but continued efforts are being made to successfully recover them. However, the Maguire Daisy was removed from the endangered species list on February 18th, 2011 and is found throughout Utah in higher elevations between 5200 and 8600 feet.

The Gray Wolf is prosperous in some regions but is still considered an endangered species. Photo by Tracy Brooks / USFWS.

From Sea to Shining Sea

Hawaiian coast. Photo provided by

But none of these efforts are possible without maintaining the integrity of our water, oceans, and atmosphere. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Environmental Protection Agency both work to improve our oceans and climate by studying resources and interpreting the results; providing cleanup and manpower for disaster relief; ensuring the safety of chemicals and their usage to prevent pollution; and passing and enforcing laws to protect people, animals, and the environment.

The EPA also manages all hazardous and non-hazardous waste and recyclables under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. They are responsible for ensuring that contaminants don't effect our food, water, air, land, and oceans and are constantly attempting to improve current waste management programs.

So today when you're out barbecuing, spending time with your family, and celebrating our Independence Day, I hope you think back to some of these contributions made by the United States to protect the natural beauty of this portion of our planet. Not only are you able to enjoy this country's beauty, but so will future generations that sees beyond the years.

If you're all about the United States, maybe look into footage from last year's Puppy Bowl VII, or learn more about what Los Angeles is doing to cut down on trash.

1 comment:

  1. I have always believed the best way to protect wild spaces is to take people into them and let them touch, smell, hear and taste what the land has to offer. John Muir understood this, so did Teddy Roosevelt and many others.

    Dani @ ONNO Organic Clothing


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment for venTREEloquism. If you enjoyed this post, please check out other entries and remember to subscribe!