Blue Heron in flight

Saturday, December 3, 2016

FDR, the Great Conservationist

I am reading a very interesting book right now, Douglas Brinkley's biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 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.

As a State Senator he crafted the Roosevelt-Jones Conservation Act, which made it illegal for timber companies to clear cut, even of private land. He fought with large Adirondack timber interests and promoted the idea of the Taconic Parkway, still one of my favorite roads in New York.

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.

As Governor, according to the author, Roosevelt was the first at his position to establish meaningful relief for those hit by ruthless bankers and financiers during the crash of 1929. He and Henry Morgenthau came up with an idea to hire thousands of unemployed workers to reforest abandoned farms in New York, the initial spark that later became the CCC or Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1931 he recommended the creation of TERA, the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration, which would help put money in the hands of the destitute but force them plant trees as payback.

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.


Anonymous said...

Before we go off half-cocked over the winsomeness of Mr. Brinkley's authorship we
should examine his blatant brown-nosing of a certain Mr. John F. Kerry, in the campaign of 2004.

Paid to write a scholarly tome elevating Mr. Kerry to sainthood, his writing came under withering attack from certain Swiftboaters. Asked at the time to answer charges of elevating a coward to the ranks of the few and proud, Brinkley stated that Kerry's
actions were on par with Audie Murphy. Audie Murphy......

.....Well, it seems Audie Murphy destroyed two machine gun nests single handedly, after one displayed a white flag and then killed his best friend. Murphy defended a field of fire, sitting in a burning tank, against a field of advancing Germans, some within 10 yards, while his men regrouped. He contracted malaria three times but refused to leave the theater of war. He refused all battlefield promotions because he would have to leave his men. He was the most decorated soldier of World War II, period. His grave site at Arlington is the 2nd most visited, after JFK.

John Kerry was in Vietnam, in combat, for four months. He was wounded three times, all suspect, and left immediately after the third, which was his ticket out of Nam, never to return.

He subsequently testified before Congress that the men he served with were criminals.

He is now our Secretary of State. Heroism's bar has been set very, very low, by Mr. Brinkley.

Blue Heron said...

Kerry's comrades on the boats vouched for him and his accolades. More bullshit psyops fake news from your side.

Anonymous said...

More than 250 fellow Swiftboaters refuted Kerry's 'heroism' and called him a coward and a traitor. The outcome of the 2004 campaign speaks volumes. The American electoral system has a just way of winnowing the grain from the chaff, the true leader from the loser (ala Clinton).

No one is expected to visit Kerry's grave, maybe buried in a giant ketchup bottle, ass up, so maybe Brinkley can come by and give it a smooch.

Blue Heron said...

"In 1969, I was Sen. Kerry's gun mate atop of the Swift boat in Vietnam. And I just wanted to let everyone know that, contrary to all the rumors that you might hear from the other side, Sen. Kerry's blood is red, not blue. I know, I've seen it.

"If it weren't for Sen. John Kerry, on the 28th of February 1969, the day he won the Silver Star . . . you and I would not be having this conversation. My name would be on a long, black wall in Washington, D.C. I saw this man save my life."

— Fred Short

"I can still see him now, standing in the doorway of the pilothouse, firing his M-16, shouting orders through the smoke and chaos . . . Even wounded, or confronting sights no man should ever have to see, he never lost his cool.

I had to sit on my hands [after a firefight], I was shaking so hard . . . He went to every man on that boat and put his arm around them and asked them how they're doing. I've never had an officer do that before or since. That's the mettle of the man, John Kerry."

— David Alston

"What I saw back then [in Vietnam] was a guy with genuine caring and leadership ability who was aggressive when he had to be. What I see now is a guy who's not afraid to tackle tough issues. And he knows what the consequences are of putting people's kids in harm's way."

— James Wasser

Many of Kerry's Vietnam commanders and fellow officers also continue to speak positively of him:
Navy records, fitness reports by Kerry's commanders and scores of interviews with Swift boat officers and crewmen depict a model officer who fought aggressively in river ambushes and won the respect of many of his crewmates and commanders, even as his doubts about the war grew.

"I don't like what he said after the war," said Adrian Lonsdale, who commanded Kerry for three months in 1969. "But he was a good naval officer."

Anonymous said...

There isn't room to give voice to the countless colleagues of Kerry's he convinced of his cowardice in such a short time (4 months). It is
testament to his ability to cut and run that thirty five years after the fact so many men would so vigorously oppose promoting a spineless
gold digger to the position of Commander in Chief, presiding over the very men he claimed were raping and murdering, after only four months in the field.

The man will go down in history as having risen to level of his own incompetence. And no more.