Teddy Roosevelt's Legacy

Centennial celebrationIn 1902, scarcely six months after Theodore Roosevelt's inauguration as the youngest president of the United States at age 42, "Teddy" started what would become a long legacy of land conservation by the United States government by signing Crater Lake National Park into existence.

An avid outdoorsman, Roosevelt understood that for future generations to have places to hunt and fish, there needed to be room for wildlife to be wild. In 1903, he began the National Wildlife Refuge System by proclaiming Pelican Island near Vero Beach, Florida as the first Federal Bird Refuge.

During his second term, in February 1905, the National Forest Service was established at his urging. Of 150 National Forests proclaimed during Roosevelt's tenure, the Ocala National Forest was the second one established east of the Mississippi in the continental United States, created Nov. 24, 1908.

In 2008, we celebrated 100 years of the Ocala National Forest with a festive event coordinated by friends of the Forest, complete with a re-enactment of President Theodore Roosevelt signing the Forest into existence.