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MILESTONES IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION TIMELINE Preservation and Conservation in the US

1849

The U.S. Department of the Interior is established. Among its duties (which are so diverse that it is nicknamed "the Department of Everything Else") is the management of public parklands. It is now the nation's main conservation agency.

1854

Henry David Thoreau's Walden is published. It laments the rise of industrialization and the destruction of wilderness, and raises questions about humans' relationship to nature that influence naturalists and political activists more than 150 years later. Among its famous lines is, "In wildness is the preservation of the world."

1864

Naturalist and Vermont congressman George Perkins Marsh, sometimes called the father of the conservation movement, publishes Man and Nature; or, Physical Geography as modified by Human Action. From travel in Europe, Africa, and Asia, Marsh describes human damage to the natural world that he believes is irrevocablethen a new idea. He also warns against the dangers of future technological innovation.

1864

A bill is passed by Congress and signed by President Lincoln that creates the nation's first state park, setting aside for public recreation 20,000 acres in California's Yosemite Valley.

1866

The word ecology is coined by German zoologist Ernst Haeckel to describe the study of the relationship between organisms and where they live. The word comes from the Greek logos (study) and oikos (home).

1870

Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, becomes the first wildlife refuge in the United States. A year earlier, the area had been a sewage-filled slough of San Francisco Bay; Oakland mayor Samuel Merritt personally financed the dam that created the

MILESTONES IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION TIMELINE Preservation and Conservation in the US


lake.

1872

A bill is passed by Congress and signed by President Grant to create the world's first national park at the headwaters of Yellowstone River in Montana and Wyoming. The parkland now comprises more than 2 million acres, mainly in northwest Wyoming.

1877

U.S. secretary of the interior Carl Schurz attempts to pass land-management laws that would slow the exploitation of public forests by the "timber barons" who ultimately deforested much of the American Midwest. He fails.

1887

The Boone and Crockett Club, an elite group of outdoorsmen, is founded by George Grinnell and Teddy Roosevelt to promote ethical hunting laws and wildlife conservation. Among their achievements was the defense of Yellowstone Park against railroad and mining interests; at that time, the park was still open for commercial exploitation.

1886

The Audubon Society, dedicated to the protection of birds and their natural habitats, is founded by George Grinnell, publisher of Forest and Stream magazine. Grinnell's original group soon folds, but local chapters take up the mantle and reconstitute the National Audubon Society in 1905.

1892

Naturalist and writer John Muir co-founds (with Robert Underwood Johnson) and becomes president of the Sierra Club, which is dedicated to wilderness preservation and outdoor recreation.

1894

The Adirondack Park and Forest Preserve is declared "forever wild" by an

MILESTONES IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION TIMELINE Preservation and Conservation in the US


amendment to the New York State constitution. A preservation landmark, this legislation permanently protects the park from commercial exploitation.

1898

The European-trained forester Gifford Pinchot becomes the head of the U.S. Division of Forestry. In this role, and as head of the Forest Service after its founding in 1905, Pinchot shapes U.S. conservation policyand becomes the bane of radicals who object to his emphasis on managing, rather than preserving, natural resources.

1901 09

Theodore Roosevelt is the "conservation president." During his administration, more than 225 million acres of land become part of the U.S. Forest Service, and approximately 50 wildlife refuges and 150 national forests are created.

1903

President Roosevelt orders the creation of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refugethe first national wildlife refugein Florida.

1906

The Antiquities Act, which aims to preserve ancient Indian artifacts under a new rubric of protected "national monuments," is passed by Congress and signed by President Roosevelt. The act becomes a watershed in wilderness preservation thanks to the creativity of Roosevelt, who uses it to proclaim millions of acresincluding the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, and Katmai"national monuments."

1916

The National Parks Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of the Interior, is established. At its founding, the bureau is responsible for managing 14 national parks and 21 national monuments.

MILESTONES IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION TIMELINE Preservation and Conservation in the US


1925 Industrial Poisons in the United States by Alice Hamilton explores the dangers of industrial pollution to American laborers. Hamilton's groundbreaking work reflects a broader understanding of conservation issues, with concern not just about wilderness but about human health.

1935

The General Wildlife Federation is established to educate the American public about American wildlife and natural resources; the following year, the name is changed to the National Wildlife Federation. It is now the nation's largest grassroots conservation organization.

1949

A Sand Country Almanac by naturalist and former Forest Service employee Aldo Leopold describes the complex relationships within nature. His work does much to educate the general public about natural science. It also marks the beginning of a shift from a conservation movement dominated by wilderness lovers to the emerging environmental movement, which brings together scientists from different fields.

1962

Silent Spring by aquatic biologist Rachel Carson exposes the harm caused by insecticides such as DDT. The book leads to the development of safer insecticides and to a ban on the sale of DDT within the United States. More significantly, it heightens the awareness of ordinary people, who demand new legislation aimed at protecting the environmenta word that enters common parlance around this time.

1964

The Wilderness Preservation Act establishes the National Wilderness Preservation System. The system can grant wilderness areas protected status that excludes them from mining, timber cutting, and other operations.

MILESTONES IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION TIMELINE Preservation and Conservation in the US


1968 The National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act establishes a system for protecting pristine, free-flowing rivers from development.

1966

The Endangered Species Preservation Act, the nation's first law to protect endangered species, permits the government to take land into federal custody in order to protect "selected species of native fish and wildlife." It does not ban, however, the killing of endangered species, except within national wildlife refuges.

1967

The Environmental Defense Fund is established to seek legal solutions to environmental problems. Its founding heralds the emergence of this new law specialty.

1969

The Endangered Species Conservation Act expands the protection of the 1966 act to some invertebrates and introduces a new category: threatened speciesthose that are "threatened with worldwide extinction."

1970

On April 22 Earth has its first official birthday celebration in the United States. More than 20 million people marched, demonstrated, and attend teach-ins on environmental topics. On Dec. 2 President Nixon forms the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce laws that protect the environment and public health. Two days later William D. Ruckelshaus is sworn in as the agency's first administrator. The Clean Air Act is passed, regulating air emissions and granting the EPA the power to set air quality standards. Amendments to the act in 1977 and 1990 raise standards even higher, in order to counter problems like acid rain and ozone depletion.

MILESTONES IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION TIMELINE Preservation and Conservation in the US

The League of Conservation Voters is founded. A bipartisan political action committee (PAC) of environmental activists, it publishes a scorecard of House and Senate member votes for every Congress.

1971

The international organization Greenpeace is founded. Greenpeace proves adept at using the media to raise awareness about industrial pollution, endangered species protection, and other environmentalist concerns.

1972

The Noise Control Act helps to define a newly recognized environmental problemnoise pollutionand grants the EPA authority to set noise limits. The Clean Water Act is passed by Congress, placing a limit on the flow of raw sewage into rivers, lakes, and streams. According to EPA statistics, only one third of the nation's waters are safe for fishing and swimming at the time that the act is passed. Three decades later, about two thirds are safe.

1973

The Endangered Species Act is passed to protect wildlife. The act expands federal protections to plants and all invertebrates; bans the killing of all endangered species, as well as trade in endangered species and their products; and permits nonnative species to be added to the U.S. endangered species list. Every year the names of 35 to 60 insects, plants, and animals are added to the list of species threatened with extinction. By April 2001 there are more than 1,800 threatened and endangered plant and animal species around the world. OPEC countries raise oil prices in response to Western support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War. As a result, Western nations begin to put more effort into exploring alternative energy resources.

MILESTONES IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION TIMELINE Preservation and Conservation in the US


1974 The Safe Drinking Water Act outlaws pollutants to ensure that people drink safe water.

1975

Congress passes legislation that sets standards for automobile tail-pipe emissions. As a result, automakers begin adding catalytic converters to cars. The EPA claims that today's cars pollute 95% less than those of 1970.

1976

The Toxic Substances Control Act empowers the EPA to track the tens of thousands of industrial chemicals used in the United States, as well as to ban those that pose a threat to the environment or human health.

1980

Congress creates the Superfund, setting aside large amounts of money to clean up hazardous waste sites across the United States.

1985

A team of British scientists led by Dr. Joe Farman reports that there is a hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic.

1987

The United States is one of 24 nations to sign the Montreal Protocol, an agreement to phase out production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). It was discovered in the 1970s that CFCs destroy the ozone layer.

1988

Scientists discover a second hole in the ozone layer, this time over the Arctic.

1990

Earth Day 2 is celebrated on April 22. One hundred million people around the globe participate. The tradition of celebrating Earth Day annually on or around April 22 is begun.

MILESTONES IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION TIMELINE Preservation and Conservation in the US


1992 The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro brings 150 nations together to set global standards for protecting the Earth against global warming and other environmental threats.

1994

New standards created by the EPA require chemical plants to reduce toxic air pollution by more than half a million tons each year.

1995

On Earth Day, a student-led campaign delivers the Environmental Bill of Rights to the U.S. Congress. This petition asserts that "every American has the right to a safe and healthy environment" and describes how elected officials should protect that right. It is signed by 1.2 million Americans.

1996

It becomes mandatory that public suppliers of drinking water provide customers information about the chemicals and microbes in their water.

1997

Thirty-eight industrialized nations sign the Kyoto Protocol, agreeing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by about 5% over 15 years. The United States, which has the world's highest emission levels, agrees to reduce by emissions by 7%.

1999

New emissions standards are set for automobiles, requiring them to become 77% to 95% cleaner. For the first time sport utility vehicles and trucks are ordered to meet the same standards as cars.

2000

The Senate overwhelmingly approves a $7.8 billion aid plan to restore the Everglades ecosystem in Florida.

MILESTONES IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION TIMELINE Preservation and Conservation in the US


2001 In January, the head of Clinton's Forest Service halts harvesting of old-growth timber on public lands. In April, President Bush refuses to sign an international environmental treaty, known as the Kyoto Protocol, to reduce global warming. The treaty is aimed at reducing heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide around the world. The Kyoto Protocol is ratified by nations in Latin America, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and the European Union. Environmental groups react strongly to Bush's decision, and EPA leader Christine Todd Whitman later announces that the Bush administration would support other environmental steps, including executive orders by Clinton to protect wetlands and to regulate lead emissions by companies.

2004

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) informs the governors of 31 states that the air pollution in their states does not meet federal health standards. These states must develop new pollution controls to clean up their air. The unhealthy air affects more than 159 million people.

2005

On Feb. 16, the landmark Kyoto Protocol officially goes into effect. The international environmental treaty requires dozens of nations to reduce heattrapping gases such as carbon dioxide. A total of 141 nations have ratified the Protocol. Several of the largest industrialized nations, notably Australia and the United States, did not sign the treaty.

2007

In August, Arctic sea ice hits at an all-time low, measuring 1.93 million square miles. Due to global warming, it's dropped 27% since the previously recorded low of 2.05 million square miles in 2005.

MILESTONES IN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION TIMELINE Preservation and Conservation in the US


2008 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that China has exceeded greenhouse gas emission estimates, and thus may nullify efforts made by the Kyoto Protocol. By 2010 China's carbon dioxide emissions are expected to increase 11% per year instead of 2.5-5% as previously anticipated.

2009

On Feb. 17, 2009, President Obama signs the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). The Recovery Act seeks in part to spur technological advances in science and health and to invest in environmental protection and other infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits. One of the first beneficiaries of Recovery Act is the Badger Chevron site in the North Pole. Work to clean up this site, remediate petroleum contamination, and render safe drinking water wells began in Oct. 2009.

Source: Infoplease.com