Rightful Heritage and the Land of America. The outstanding biographer Brinkley had previously written a biography of FDR's cousin and fellow President Teddy called The Wilderness Warrior.
While Teddy Roosevelt's role in establishing the National Parks system is well known, the reader of Rightful Heritage will soon see that Franklin's contribution is no less impressive. FDR was the scion of two old dutch families in the Hudson River Valley, the Roosevelts and the Delanos and a committed forester and soil conservationist.
From an early age Roosevelt could name every tree and bird in the valley and for that matter, the eastern seaboard. He brought down a huge collection with his fowling piece. His father instilled a deep love of trees and forest and Roosevelt was responsible for the welfare of the family estate called Springwood at Hyde Park after his father James early passing.
First elected to the New York State Senate and then the national Senate and then Governor of New York before becoming our only four time President, the very popular FDR never lost touch with the land. While Teddy had lionized the cowboy, FDR was wary of their tendency to overgraze federal land with their cattle.
One of the first environmentalists, FDR was horrified by the southerner's devastation of their native hardwood forests. Roosevelt went on to do so much for the environment, setting up countless National Migratory Bird Refuge. He championed large water projects in the west and helped establish the Everglades as a National Park. He also was responsible for helping create much of the State Park system.
I am not going to review the whole book, which is long and at times rather tedious but encourage you to give it a look if you can. For nothing else, its appendixes that show the amount of National Forests created throughout the land by President Franklin Roosevelt, is mind boggling, the National Parks and monuments that include Whitman Mission, King's Canyon, Channel Islands, Joshua Tree (the story of which is fantastic) Channel Islands, Organ Pipe Cactus, Cedar Breaks, Capitol Reef, Zion, Jackson Hole, Fort Laramie, Big Bend, Homestead, Pipestone, George Washington Carver, Ackia Battleground, Mammoth Cave, Shenandoah, Ft. Stanwis, Great Smoky Mountains, Andrew Johnson, Isle Royale, Harper's Ferry, Fort Jefferson and the Everglades.
His 1933 Executive Order gave the National Park Service jurisdiction over all Civil War Battlefields, National Parks and cemeteries, over 64 sites total. He established over140 National Wildlife Refuges.
People interested in America's environment will be well served to read this book and marvel at this Presidents incredible and enormous contribution in the never ending quest for clean air, water, forests and parks in the United States of America.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt did do much for this country, this particular contribution goes overlooked. He was a thorn in the side of his own patrician class his entire life, and his safety net and concern for the well being of the little guy raises the ire of conservatives and robber barons even to this day. Thank you FDR for showing us what the best of America looked like.