Flashback photo: Teddy Roosevelt admires his handiwork

Breton National Wildlife Refuge (Louisiana), 1915.

Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, flickr.

A photo from 1915 shows perhaps the greatest conservationist ever to inhabit the White House: Teddy Roosevelt.

In 1915, a few years removed from his ‘Bull Moose’ run at a third presidential term, Theodore Roosevelt was done governing--but not yet finished enjoying the natural splendor he fought so valiantly to preserve during his time in the White House. Here, the retired wilderness warrior visits the beach at Breton National Wildlife Refuge, the second piece of land added to the refuge system he created. It is supposedly the only national wildlife refuge he ever visited.

Breton National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for species including brown pelicans, laughing gulls, various terns and endangered piping plovers, and is accordingly a favorite of enterprising nature-watchers.

Today, under the authority of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Wildlife Refuge System has more than 560 units, protecting (and in some cases restoring) about 150 million acres as habitat for thousands of species, many threatened or endangered. National wildlife refuges can be found in every state, comprising a multi-billion dollar economic engine that draws tens of millions of visitors each year. More than 20 million acres of these incredible landscapes are also part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Laughing gulls at Breton Island National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Donna A. Dewhurst (USFWS Southeast), flickr.

Royal terns at Breton Island National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS Southeast, flickr.

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See endangered species that call wildlife refuges home