Declaration of the Conservation Conference
May 15, 1908
We the Governors of the States and Territories of the United
States of America, in Conference assembled, do hereby declare the
conviction that the great prosperity of our country rests upon the
abundant resources of the land chosen by our forefathers for their
homes and where they laid the foundation of this great Nation.
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
We agree that our country's future is involved in this; that the
great natural resources supply the material basis on which our
civilization must continue to depend, and on which the perpetuity of
the Nation itself rests.
We agree, in the light of facts brought to our knowledge and from
information received from sources which we can not doubt, that this
material basis is threatened with exhaustion. Even as each succeeding
generation from the birth of the Nation has performed its part in
promoting the progress and development of the Republic, so do we in
this generation recognize it as a high duty to perform our part; and
this duty in large degree lies in the adoption of measures for the
conservation of the natural wealth of the country.
We declare our firm conviction that this conservation of our
natural resources is a subject of transcendent importance, which
should engage unremittingly the attention of the Nation, the States,
and the People in earnest cooperation. These natural resources
include the land on which we live and which yields our food; the
living waters which fertilize the soil, supply power, and form great
avenues of commerce; the forests which yield the materials for our
homes, prevent erosion of the soil, and conserve the navigation and
other uses of our streams; and the minerals which form the basis of
our industrial life, an supply us with heat, light, and power.
We agree that the land should be so used that erosion and
soil-wash shall cease; that there should be reclamation of arid and
semi-arid regions by means of irrigation, and of swamp and overflowed
regions by means of drainage; that the waters should be so conserved
and used as to promote navigation, to enable the arid regions to be
reclaimed by irrigation, and to develop power in the interests of the
People; that the forests which regulate our rivers, support our
industries, and promote the fertility and productiveness of the soil
should be preserved and perpetuated; that the minerals found so
abundantly beneath the surface should be so used as to prolong their
utility; that the beauty, healthfulness, and habitability of our
country should be preserved and increased; that the sources of
national wealth exist for the benefit of the People, and that
monopoly thereof should not be tolerated.
We commend the wise forethought of the President in sounding the
note of warning as to the waste and exhaustion of the natural
resources of the country, and signify our high appreciation of his
action in calling this Conference to consider the same and to seek
remedies therefor through cooperation of the Nation and the States.
We agree that this cooperation should find expression in suitable
action by the Congress within the limits of and coextensive with the
national jurisdiction of the subject, and, complementary thereto, by
the legislatures of the several States within the limits of and
coextensive with their jurisdiction.
We declare the conviction that in the use of the natural resources
our independent States are interdependent and bound together by ties
of mutual benefits, responsibilities and duties.
We agree in the wisdom of future conferences between the
President, Members of Congress, and the Governors of States on the
conservation of our natural resources with a view of continued
cooperation and action on the lines suggested; and to this end we
advise that from to time, as in his judgment may seem wise, the
President call the Governors of the States and Members of Congress
and others into conference.
We agree that further action is advisable to ascertain the present
condition of our natural resources and to promote the conservation of
the same; and to that end we recommend the appointment by each State
of a Commission on the Conservation of Natural Resources, to
cooperate with each other and with any similar commission of the
We urge the continuation and extension of forest policies adapted
to secure the husbanding and renewal of our diminishing timber
supply, the prevention of soil erosion, the protection of headwaters,
and the maintenance of the purity and navigability of our streams. We
recognize that the private ownership of forest lands entails
responsibilities in the interests of all the People, and we favor the
enactment of laws looking to the protection and replacement of
privately owned forests.
We recognize in our waters a most valuable asset of the People of
the United States, and we recommend the enactment of laws looking to
the conservation of water resources for irrigation, water supply,
power, and navigation, to the end that navigable and source streams
may be brought under complete control and fully utilized for every
purpose. We especially urge on the Federal Congress the immediate
adoption of a wise, active, and thorough waterway policy, providing
for the prompt improvement of our streams and the conservation of
their watersheds required for the uses of commerce and the protection
of the interests of our People.
We recommend the enactment of laws looking to the prevention of
waste in the mining and extraction of coal, oil, gas, and other
minerals with a view to their wise conservation for the use of the
People, and to the protection of human life in the mines.
Let us conserve the foundations of our prosperity.