In Celebration of George Washington’s Birthday, Presidential Environmental Passages
February 23, 2013

In Celebration Of George Washington’s Birthday: Presidential Environmental Passages

Courtesy of Pat Byington, The Green Register Editor

Over the years I have collected a number of environmental quotes and passages. In honor of our first President’s birthday, George Washington, and President’s Day from earlier this week, below are some powerful presidential environmental statements from Theodore Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan.  


“To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.” President Theodore Roosevelt; Message to Congress, December 3, 1907

“The civilized people of today look back with horror at their medieval ancestors who wantonly destroyed great works of art or sat slothfully by while they were destroyed. We have passed this stage… Here in the U.S. we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping grounds, we pollute the air, we des

troy our forests and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals – not to speak of vulgarizing charming landscapes with hideous advertisements. But at best it looks as if our people were awakening.” –President Theodore Roosevelt, “Outlook” June 25, 1913.

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” – President Franklin Roosevelt

“No one has the right to use America’s rivers and America’s waterways that belong to all the people, as a sewer. The banks of a river may belong to one man or one industry or one state, but the waters which flow between the banks should belong to all the people.” – President Lyndon B. Johnson upon signing the Clean Water Act of 1965

(Upon signing of the Wilderness Act, 1964) “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.” – President Lyndon B. Johnson

“Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions. It has become a common cause of all the people of this country. It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they, more than we, will reap the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later.”  President Richard Nixon – Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union, 1970

“I remember as a ranger the first time I stood alone on Inspiration Point over at Canyon Station looking out over this beautiful land. I thought to myself how lucky I was that my parents’ and grandparents’ generation had the vision and the determination to save it for us. Now it is our turn to make our own gift outright to those who will come after us, 15 years, 40 years, 100 years from now. I want to be as faithful to my grandchildren’s generation as Old Faithful has been to ours. What better way can we add a new dimension to our third century of freedom? “President Gerald Ford – Remarks at Yellowstone National Park, August 29, 1976

The Green Register editor Pat Byington meeting President Jimmy Carter in 2005.

“It is good to realize that if love and peace can prevail on earth, and if we can teach our children to honor nature’s gifts, the joys and beauties of the outdoors will be here forever.” – President Jimmy Carter

“What is a conservative after all but one who conserves, one who is committed to protecting and holding close the things by which we live… And we want to protect and conserve the land on which we live — our countryside, our rivers and mountains, our plains and meadows and forests. This is our patrimony. This is what we leave to our children. And our great moral responsibility is to leave it to them either as we found it or better than we found it.” President Ronald Reagan – Remarks at dedication of National Geographic Society’s new headquarters building in 1984.

Featured Image Credit: Georgios Kollidas / Shutterstock

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