OCTOBER 22, 1955
A resolution introduced in the House of Representatives by Frank Thompson Jr. (D., N.J.) and into the Senate by James E. Murray (D., Mont.) in conjunction with a number of other Senators should be brought to the special attention of the general public. The object of this resolution is to draw attention to the fact that the year 1957 will mark the 50th anniversary of the first conference of state governors ever held in the United States.
At this initial conference the conservation movement of the natural resources of the United States was launched. President Theodore Roosevelt called this governors' conference. It is interesting to me that this first conference should have been called by my uncle Theodore Roosevelt, and that my husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt, during his administration, should have laid so much stress on conservation for exactly the same reasons given by President Theodore Roosevelt.
President Theodore Roosevelt on May 14, 1907, when he addressed the conference of governors, said:
"So vital is this question of conservation, that for the first time in our history the chief executive officers of the states separately, and of the states together forming the nation, have met to consider it. It is the chief material question that confronts us, second only—and second always—to the great fundamental question of morality.
"The occasion for the meeting lies in the fact that the natural resources of our country are in danger of exhaustion if we permit the old wasteful methods of exploiting them longer to continue. In the development, the use, and therefore the exhaustion of certain of the natural resources, the progress has been more rapid in the past century and a quarter than during all preceding time of history since the days of primitive man.
"All these various uses of our natural resources are so closely connected that they should be coordinated, and should be treated as part of one coherent plan and not in haphazard and piecemeal fashion."
If this commemoration of the 50th year could draw attention to the very same things President Theodore Roosevelt drew attention to 50 years ago it would help us all enormously in preserving our natural resources and developing them to the maximum good for the people of our country. We can learn much in our own country that will be useful in helping other nations of the world.
Surely, if President Theodore Roosevelt thought it essential with the advice and guidance of Gifford Pinchot, who was our foremost conservationist at that time, it must be doubly important today to study every means in the area of cooperation. States should cooperate with one another and with the Federal government. Our schools should cooperate by education of our children in the value of our natural resources and in ways and means to preserve them and not to exploit them.
Also in every possible way the greatest number of people that can be reached should be reached with the story of how soil erosion and wasteful use of water may eventually mean the deterioration of the whole continent.
Of late years it has seemed to me that the general public has become apathetic about conservation in general. They want to use our national parks as playgrounds but they think they can be kept up without any worry on our part as to whether an appropriation is passed that is adequate to keep them up.
This attitude is apt to leave a feeling on the part of state officials that the general public is not interested and, therefore, they are pressured by special interests. We are apt someday to wake up and find the special interests have won and we, the people have lost.