Conservation of Natural Resources

Conservation of Natural Resources

Conservation of Natural Resources

Conservation of Natural Resources

Excerpt

The United States from its founding down to the present has experienced three major stages or periods in respect to the great resources of the nation. As the pioneers took possession of the continent they were first overwhelmed by abundance. Great forests stood in the way of the farmer who would cultivate the land. In the rivers and in the adjacent seas fish and other seafoods were available in great quantities. The expansive prairies of midland America were among the most productive of the world. The mineral treasures beneath the surface were largely unknown when the outer frontiers of the nation were first established. To possess the land and bring it under cultivation meant the destruction of a great forest resource. Wasteful exploitation was condoned in the midst of such abundance.

This rich heritage passed largely into the hands of individuals, and the development of the resources made possible the flowering of a national economy characterized by great material wealth both for individuals and for the nation. The enormous deposits of coal, petroleum, and natural gas increased greatly the power of the people to make full use of the other mineral treasures. By inventiveness and resourcefulness the machine economy has been made to yield the comforts of modern living in America. The nation by the full development of its material wealth has risen to a high place among the great powers of the world.

But the development, even the unwise exploitation, of the resources brought unhappy consequences. The virgin forests are largely gone. Extensive acres of land have depreciated in value through soil erosion or depletion of the plant nutrients. Rich mineral resources have been exhausted or diminished by long-continued use. Fisheries have declined because of overfishing. The great water resources remain uncontrolled. The unwise use of the material wealth of the nation has given rise to a movement to save our national heritage from further wastage. The rate at which the material wealth is being used has raised serious doubts about the capacity of the nation to maintain the same high standard of living indefinitely in the future.

The conservation movement made uncertain progress in the beginning. There existed simultaneously in the United States both abundance and . . .

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