In the early 1900s, those who cherished this country’s natural resources realized that for wildlife and wild places to continue to exist, they needed to fight for their long-term wellbeing. That undertaking became known as the conservation movement. Leading the charge was President Theodore Roosevelt, a naturalist who had a deep love for America’s natural beauty and resources. He actively supported conservation ideals throughout his administration, protecting 230 million acres of land and creating 150 national forests, the first 51 federal bird reservations, five national parks and the first four national game preserves. The first National Wildlife Refuge he established, Pelican Island, is in Vero Beach. Theodore Roosevelt was also a hunter, embracing the wise use of our resources. And it is his legacy as a sportsman-naturalist that serves as the best example of one of the great (and often misunderstood) paradoxes of wildlife conservation: Those with a passion for the hunt also have a passion to protect.
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