Conservation Movement

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  • The beginnings of the conservation movement, which resulted in the federal management of the environment, stem from the Progressive reforms of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, a possible blueprint for the rational development of the West had been in place for at least twenty-five years. Explorer, bureaucrat, and iconoclast John Wesley Powell had issued his Arid Lands report in 1877, noting that aridity was the common feature of the land west of the 100th meridian. Because of this, he wrote that only through irrigation and limited, rational settlement along the sources of scarce water could the West be made to prosper. However, the push to settle and develop the lands of the West was too great, and the ideology of “rain follows ...

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