New Deal Conservation
This introduction asks two questions that are central to this book. First, how did Progressive Era conservation become post–World War II environmentalism? And second, how did Franklin Roosevelt forge and maintain his liberal New Deal coalition? One answer to both questions, the introduction argues, is the New Deal's unique brand of conservation. The introduction then describes the differences between conservation and environmentalism, explaining that while progressive conservation involved elites interested in the efficient use of natural resources, postwar environmentalism represented a more grassroots phenomenon concerned with more human-centered and non-utilitarian issues including wilderness preservation, ecological balance, and health through outdoor recreation. This introduction also explains the peculiar politics of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal coalition, which brought together an unlikely alliance of eastern intellectuals and western farmers, urban immigrants and rural native-born Americans, the American working class and a particular type of industrial capitalist. The introduction concludes by suggesting that New Deal conservation in general, and the CCC in particular, helped transform progressive conservation into postwar environmentalism while simultaneously aiding Franklin Roosevelt in overcoming various divisions within this New Deal coalition.
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