FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

FDR in Montana

When asked his profession, Franklin D. Roosevelt: attorney, state legislator, Governor of New York, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and President of the United states, would respond, “I am a Tree Grower.”

As a young boy in the Hudson River Valley, he studied birds and in his early teens was considered one of the valley’s foremost ornithologists, however visiting the World’s Columbia Exhibition in 1893, the young Roosevelt was attracted to the exhibit of trees native to NY State. From that time on he studied and practiced the arts of planting and transplanting, pruning, watering, and spacing of trees.

Although Hyde Park in the Hudson River Valley was his beloved home, FDR wrote, “Nature is not so kind here. Winters are hard, summers sometimes too hot, sometimes too cold, the lot of a farmer or gardener is always a gamble and yet I like the change of seasons. I would miss having a landscape never covered by snow. The coming of spring seems to be more wonderful because of the extremes that lie before and beyond it.” Reading those words brings one closer to understanding Roosevelt’s love for the American West and perhaps his obvious joy in not only visiting Montana time and again but also his determination to help it’s citizens.

In 1932 the Democratic Presidential Nominee, FDR, visited Butte for his second time and, from the steps of the Court House on Granite Street, spoke to a crowd of 10,000 people about work that would soon be coming there way, including conservation jobs in Montana’s National Forests. Within weeks of his election the new President called for the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which during its nine-year mission, would build thousands of miles of trails, bridges, roads, erosion protection, lookout fire towers, and plant trees throughout the nation, Here in Montana more than 100,000 young people, ages18 to 23, worked for $30.00 a month…of which their President asked they send $25.00 home to their Mothers.

The President, listening to the determined advice of his friend Montana’s Senator B.K. Wheeler, began the PWA-WPA construction of Ft. Peck Dam and visited there twice: once in 1934 when he spoke to 11,000 workers and again in 1937 to see the results…the largest earth filled dam in the world. Knowing the dam had destroyed hundreds of miles of the Missouri river, the concerned President created the Ft. Peck Game Range, now known as the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge.

Included in that year’s trip was a chilly September visit to Yellowstone National Park. Driving through Montana’s Gardner Entrance, FDR and his wife Eleanor visited Upper Geyser Basin and marveled at the eruptions of both Old Faithful and Daisy geysers. The President enjoyed talking with the “boys in the CCC” who were working in the park. He asked them for a few cones from beneath the Lodge Pole Pines. He would plant the seeds at Hyde Park where, ”We hope they will grow.”

The Roosevelt legacy of wildlife protection is perhaps best recognized through the results of his many hundreds of Presidential Proclamations, Executive Orders, and successful proposals to Congress for environmental protections: 140 National Wildlife Refuges with 11 in Montana, 29 National Parks and Monuments, 174 National Forests either established or acreages increased with 6 in Montana, 52,000 Campgrounds, 20,000 miles of Foot trails, 972 million Fish stocked and finally, 3 billion trees planted… with hundreds of thousands of those creating shelter belts to avoid another Dust Bowl.

We often overlook what is perhaps the most critical legacy of FDR:  “tree grower.”

More articles by:

Pat Williams served 18 years as Montana’s Congressman. He now lives in Missoula where he teaches at the University of Montana.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
April 03, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Omar Shaban
Gaza’s New Conflict: COVID-19
Rob Urie
Work, Crisis and Pandemic
John Whitlow
Slumlord Capitalism v. Global Pandemic
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Strange Things Happening Every Day
Jonathan Cook
The Bigger Picture is Hiding Behind a Virus
Paul Street
Silver Linings Amidst the Capitalist Coronavirus Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Control of Nature
Louis Proyect
COVID-19 and the “Just-in-Time” Supply Chain: Why Hospitals Ran Out of Ventilators and Grocery Stores Ran Out of Toilet Paper
Kathleen Wallace
The Highly Contagious Idea
Kenneth Good
The Apartheid Wars: Non-Accountability and Freedom for Perpetrators.
Andrew Levine
Democracy in America: Sorry, But You Can’t Get There from Here.
Ramzy Baroud
Tunisia Leads the Way: New Report Exposes Israel’s False Democracy
David Rosen
Coronavirus and the State-of-Emergency Pandemic
Matthew Stevenson
Will Trump Cancel the Election? Will the Democrats Dump Joe?
Ron Jacobs
Seattle—Anti-Capitalist Hotbed
Michael T. Klare
Avenger Planet: Is the COVID-19 Pandemic Mother Nature’s Response to Human Transgression?
Jack Rasmus
COVID-19 and the Forgotten Working Class
Werner Lange
The Madness of More Nukes and Less Rights in Pandemic Times
J.P. Linstroth
Why a Race is Not a Virus and a Virus is Not a Race
John Feffer
We Need a Coronavirus Truce
Thomas S. Harrington
“New Corona Cases”: the Ultimate Floating Signifier
Victor Grossman
Corona and What Then?
Katie Fite
Permanent Pandemic on Public Lands: Welfare Sheep Ranchers and Their Enablers Hold the West’s Bighorns Hostage
Patrick Bond
Covid-19 Attacks the Down-and-Out in Ultra-Unequal South Africa
Eve Ottenberg
Capitalism vs. Humanity
Nicky Reid
Fear and Loathing in Coronaville Volume 2: Panic On the Streets of Tehran
Jonas Ecke
Would Dying for the Economy Help Anybody?
Jeff Mackler
Capitalism is the Virus!
Andrew Moss
Incarceration, Detention, and Covid-19
Farzana Versey
Prayers, Piffle and Privation in the Time of Pandemic
Will Solomon
In the New Dystopia
Dean Baker
The Relative Generosity of the Economic Rescue Package: Boeing vs. Public Broadcasting
Dr. Leo Lopez, III
We Need a Lot More Transparency From the CDC
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Reflections on a Glass of Homemade Cider
Rashid Nuri
Homegrown Crisis Response: Who Grows Your Food?
Mark Luskus
Worst Case Scenario: Healthcare Workers Need Masks, ASAP
Volker Franke
The Virus That May Bring us Together
Mitchell Zimmerman
A Q & A on the GOP’s Call for Elder Sacrifice
Olfat al-Kurd
COVID-19 Could Be Catastrophic for Us: Notes From Gaza
Eileen Appelbaum - Roesmary Batt
Hospital Bailouts Begin…for Those Owned by Private Equity Firms
Nabri Ginwa
Carcinogens
Jill Richardson
Efficiency vs. Resilience
Lee Ballinger
Eddie Van Halen and the Future of Humanity
David Yearsley
Beset by Bach
Robert Koehler
Developing a Vaccine Against War
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail