Engaging with the Environment

People eating dinner at Cracker Lake, Glacier National Park
Cracker Lake, Glacier National Park.

NPS Photo.

The environment is where people live.

We rely on it to support and sustain life. Today, humans have affected almost every facet of the natural world. Crises like climate change and biodiversity loss remind us that people and the environment are interdependent.

People change their environment--and it changes us. Explore more stories of engaging with the environment.

Stories of People & the Environment

Complicating Conservation

The conservation movement of the early 1900s helped to create the National Park system and establish crucial protections for the nation's animals, plants, and landscapes. But some conservationists also embraced exclusionary ideas and policies that caused incalculable harm to people. Madison Grant and William Kent believed that the United States should be, as Kent put it, "a white man's country." They supported immigration restrictions and racial segregation. Grant and other conservationists, including President Theodore Roosevelt, also believed in eugenics. They wanted to prevent people they considered inferior--including people of color and people with disabilities--from having children.

These stories are part of NPS history. Understanding them is necessary to build a more inclusive future.

Explore More Stories of Engaging with the Environment

Last updated: December 6, 2023