Presidential Green History

Before President Clinton moved into the White House, several presidents made great strides in greening the White House and our country.

• Abraham Lincoln was the first president to set aside land specifically for public enjoyment when he established California’s Yosemite Valley and its mariposa grove of giant sequoias as a public trust.

• Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt established the Forest Service and created more than 190 million acres of new National Forests, Wildlife Refuges, Parks and Monuments.

• Woodrow Wilson established the National Park Service.

• Through Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps, millions of unemployed men planted billions of trees, built hiking trails, cleaned up streams, and constructed more than 800 parks across the country.

• Lyndon Baines Johnson’s “Great Society” was responsible for the creation of the Wilderness Act of 1964, the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, the National Trails System Act of 1968, and the Land and Water Conservation Act of 1965. He was also known as “Light Bulb Johnson” among White House staff, as he was known for wandering around the White House, turning off lights in “empty” rooms.

• Richard Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency, and also signed the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

• Jimmy Carter encouraged Americans to “put on a sweater” and lower their energy consumption. He also put solar panels on the roof of the White House. Ronald Reagan removed them, but George W. Bush put new solar panels on the White House and President Obama added to and improved the existing panels.

• President Carter also signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) on December 2, 1980. ANILCA provided protection for more than 157 million acres of land including national parks, wildlife refuges, and national monuments.