This Independent Study explains what led New Dealers to pursue conservation strategies as a solution to the socioeconomic crisis of the Great Depression, while addressing the ecologic catastrophes of the time. Through the analysis of three key New Deal initiatives: The Civilian Conservation Corps, the Taylor Grazing Act, and the Report of the Great Plains Committee, this study finds that New Dealers used conservation as a means to an end, but to them conservation was also an end in itself. They believed in the use of conservation because they grew up witnessing the limits of the Turner Thesis play itself out repeatedly in the American landscape. A look into history reveals how the New Dealers came to believe in the value of nature, its impact on human character, and its refusal to conform to human modification. With these beliefs in hand, they created legislation that conserved the environment, preserved the nation’s resources, and restored the American people. This project explains that despite some political and environmental failure, the New Deal’s conservation legislation sought to correct the mistakes of previous legislation, and in doing so significantly impacted the environment, helped to alleviate human suffering, and in turn foreshadowed modern environmentalism.


Roche, Jeff




Agriculture Law | Civil Law | Environmental Law | Housing Law | Labor and Employment Law | Land Use Law | Law and Economics | Law and Politics | Natural Resources Law


history, American environmentalism, new deal, conservation

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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