I would say it started with Teddy Roosevelt and trying to conserve land for future resource production. However, this was for humans only. There was a major environmental movement both politically and socially in the 1970s and a more recent one has taken shape. Nevertheless, I would still say it started with Teddy Roosevelt in the early 20th century.
The United States first moved towards conserving and protecting nature when they claimed Yosemite in 1864, and then made it the nation’s first national park in 1872. What really publicized conservation, however, was Teddy Roosevelt’s visit to Yosemite in 1903, which gained national attention. His strong activism for the conservation of forests and natural landscapes continued throughout his presidency. He helped conserve over 170 million acres of wildlands through the creation of national parks and national monuments, mostly in the West.
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