Here are a few presidential quotes on rivers and our environment to celebrate this Presidents Day. In searching for these quotes is seemed that our waters, lands, and wild places have always been a love of our leaders (although some more than others).

1. “… the time has also come to identify and preserve free flowing stretches of our great rivers before growth and development make the beauty of the unspoiled waterway a memory.”

   – Lyndon Johnson, Message on Natural Beauty


2. “Clean air, clean water, open spaces — these should once again be the birthright of every American.”

   – Richard Nixon, Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union, 1970


3. “The spiritual uplift, the goodwill, cheerfulness and optimism that accompanies every expedition to the outdoors is the peculiar spirit that our people need in times of suspicion and doubt…No other organized joy has values comparable to the outdoor experience.”

   – Herbert Hoover, Speech to National Conference on Outdoor Recreation, 1925


4. “I see an America whose rivers and valleys and lakes hills and streams and plains the mountains over our land and nature’s wealth deep under the earth are protected as the rightful heritage of all the people.”

   – Franklin D. Roosevelt


5. “The land, the earth God gave to man for his home … should never be the possession of any man, corporation, (or) society … any more than the air or water.”

“Laws change; people die; the land remains.”

   – Abraham Lincoln



6. “An unspoiled river is a very rare thing in this Nation today. Their flow and vitality have been harnessed by dams and too often they have been turned into open sewers by communities and by industries. It makes us all very fearful that all rivers will go this way unless somebody acts now to try to balance our river development.”

   – Lyndon Johnson, remarks on signing the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, October 2, 1968


7. “The supreme reality of our time is … the vulnerability of our planet.”

“National parks and reserves are an integral aspect of intelligent use of natural resources. It is the course of wisdom to set aside an ample portion of our natural resources as national parks and reserves, thus ensuring that future generations may know the majesty of the earth as we know it today.”

   – John F. Kennedy


8. “Leave it as it is . . . The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.” 

   – Theodore Roosevelt


9. “As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage.”

   – Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address to the Nation, January 17, 1961


10. “The public must retain control of the great waterways. It is essential that any permit to obstruct them for reasons and on conditions that seem good at the moment should be subject to revision when changed conditions demand.”

   – Teddy Roosevelt, 1908



11. “We have too long treated the natural world as an adversary rather than as a life-sustaining gift from the Almighty. If man has the genius to build, which he has, he must also have the ability and the responsibility to preserve.”

   – Gerald R. Ford, Remarks at dedication of National Environmental Research Center, July 3, 1975


12. “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”

    – Theodore Roosevelt


13. “There is new life in the soil for every man. There is healing in the trees for tired minds and for our overburdened spirits, there is strength in the hills, if only we will lift up our eyes. Remember that nature is your great restorer.”

   – Calvin Coolidge, Speech given by telephone to a Boy Scouts gathering in New York, July 25, 1924


14. “We can no longer afford to consider air and water common property, free to be abused by anyone without regard to the consequences. Instead, we should begin now to treat them as scarce resources, which we are no more free to contaminate than we are free to throw garbage into our neighbor’s yard.”
   – Richard Nixon, Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union, 1970


15. “If we’ve learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.”

   – Ronald Reagan, Remarks on signing annual report of Council on Environmental Quality, July 11, 1984

Reagan Quote


Hope you enjoyed this, on this Presidents Day. Please feel free to add in the comments your favorite presidential quote on the greatness of our country.







Jennifer and Grant Outlaw are co-owners of Carolina Outfitters and Carolina Ocoee.  They’ve been paddling whitewater in the Ducktown, TN and Bryson City, NC rivers for years and know how to help you have a great experience.


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