Lovers of our national parks and monuments can be familiar with President Theodore Roosevelt’s speech at the Grand Canyon in 1903: “Leave it as it is,” he implored the crowd, then went to paintings on saving 230 million acres for what became recognised as “America’s exceptional idea.” Now, as these public lands come increasingly beneath siege by using private pursuits abetted via lobbyists and politicians, essayist, nature author and environmental activist David Gessner asks what those words supposed then and if they depend now. On a quest to recognize Teddy Roosevelt and his passions, Leave It as It Is: A Journey Through Theodore Roosevelt’s American Wilderness digs deep into a cultural and political history as complicated as Roosevelt himself. Insightful, observant and wry, writing along with his coronary heart on his well-traveled sleeve and a laser attention at the stunning splendor of the parks, Gessner stocks an epic street ride thru these storied lands.
With his newly college-graduated nephew driving shotgun, Gessner starts offevolved in which Roosevelt’s love affair with the West first took hold, in the South Dakota Badlands. Riven with grief after his wife and mom died on the identical day late within the 19th century, the destiny president left in the back of his young daughter and searched for solace as a rancher amid the wildlife and wilderness. And while these 21st-century campers discover that tons has changed—Gessner bemoans the “Disneyfication” of such areas—they celebrate the fact that bison surround (and punctiliously blemish) their car because the animals wander by using their campsite. It turned into Roosevelt, after all, who saved this iconic beast from extinction.
Weaving an frequently candidly important biography of the 26th president thru this account of the parks he created, Gessner sooner or later arrives at Bears Ears in southeastern Utah. After conferring with the Native American tribes for whom those lands are ancestral and sacred, President Barack Obama proclaimed it a countrywide monument as he left workplace in 2016. In 2017, President Donald Trump directly shrank the area by using 85%, basically inviting commercial interests to encroach.
Today, “leave it as it is” may not be possible for the parks. Can they still be stored from corrupting human pastimes? Roosevelt, Gessner insists, would understand what to do.