Bull Creek Flats, above, is part of Humboldt Redwoods State Park in California. State parks provide protected area for residents to enjoy a range of recreational activities.

Photograph courtesy National Geographic
  • On May 15, 1908, first conference of U.S. governors issued a declaration in support of environmental conservation. The declaration was inspired by President Theodore Roosevelt and signed by the governors of all U.S. states and territories. The declaration focused on conserving natural resources: “We look upon these resources as a heritage to be made use of in establishing and promoting the comfort, prosperity, and happiness of the American People, but not to be wasted, deteriorated, or needlessly destroyed.”
    Some of the natural resources addressed by the Conference of Governors included rivers and other freshwater sources, forests, arable land, and mineral wealth. The conference was especially concerned about the long-term impacts of soil erosion, and prioritized the importance of increasing farmland. Some of the methods supported by the 1908 conference—draining wetlands and irrigating deserts—have since been questioned by environmentalists.
    The conference was the first official meeting of U.S. governors. Today, interstate cooperation on issues surrounding natural resource use remains a top priority for the National Governors Association.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    arable Adjective

    land used for, or capable of, producing crops or raising livestock.

    conservation Noun

    management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.

    Encyclopedic Entry: conservation
    desert Noun

    area of land that receives no more than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of precipitation a year.

    Encyclopedic Entry: desert
    erosion Noun

    act in which earth is worn away, often by water, wind, or ice.

    Encyclopedic Entry: erosion
    forest Noun

    ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.

    freshwater Adjective

    having to do with a habitat or ecosystem of a lake, river, or spring.

    governor Noun

    elected or appointed leader of a state or area.

    heritage Noun

    cultural or family background.

    mineral Noun

    inorganic material that has a characteristic chemical composition and specific crystal structure.

    priority Noun

    something having more importance than others.

    resource Noun

    available supply of materials, goods, or services. Resources can be natural or human.

    soil Noun

    top layer of the Earth's surface where plants can grow.

    wetland Noun

    area of land covered by shallow water or saturated by water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: wetland