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Where Does Teddy Roosevelt’s Environmental Legacy Fit in a Polarized 2020?

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“Leave it as it is,” Teddy Roosevelt told an assembled crowd on the rim of the Grand Canyon, May 6, 1903. “You can not improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American if he can travel at all should see.”

Thus is the mission statement, more or less, of the national park system, of environmentalists, of conservationists. With those five words, Roosevelt gave the coming stewards of the America’s wild spaces a rallying cry.

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