The 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan emerged in the 1960s as one of America's preeminent conservatives. He also served two terms as the Governor of California (1967-1975). Known as the "Great Communicator," Reagan was without equal in convincingly articulating conservative values to the American public. Although not generally credited with a strong environmental record, Reagan signed 43 wilderness bills into law designating a net total of 10.6 million acres, and was instrumental in U.S. ratification of the Montreal Protocol -- which has dramatically reduced emissions of gases that deplete the upper atmosphere's protective ozone layer.
"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."
Remarks on signing annual report of Council on Environmental Quality, July 11, 1984
"A strong nation is one that is loved by its people and, as Edmund Burke put it, for a country to be loved it ought to be lovely."
Message to Congress transmitting Council on Environmental Quality's annual report, February 19, 1986
"The preservation of parks, wilderness, and wildlife has also aided liberty by keeping alive the 19th century sense of adventure and awe with which our forefathers greeted the American West. Many laws protecting environmental quality have promoted liberty by securing property against the destrutctive trespass of pollution. In our own time, the nearly universal appreciation of these preserved landscapes, restored waters, and cleaner air through outdoor recreation is a modern expression of our freedom and leisure to enjoy the wonderful life that generations past have built for us."
Message to Congress transmitting Council on Environmental Quality's annual report, October 3, 1988
"Generations hence, parents will take their children to these woods to show them how the land must have looked to the first Pilgrims and pioneers. And as Americans wander through these forests, climb these mountains, they will sense the love and majesty of the Creator of all of that."
Remarks upon signing legislation designating wilderness in North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont and Wisconsin, June 19, 1984
"The Montreal Protocol is a model of cooperation. It is a product of the recognition and international consensus that ozone depletion is a global problem, both in terms of its causes and its effects. The protocol is the result of an extraordinary process of scientific study, negotiations among representatives of the business and environmental communities, and international diplomacy. It is a monumental achievement."
Statement on signing the instrument of ratification of the Montreal Protocol on Ozone-Depleting Substances, April 5, 1988
"I just have to believe that with love for our natural heritage and a firm resolve to preserve it with wisdom and care, we can and will give the American land to our children, not impaired, but enhanced. And in doing this, we'll honor the great and loving God who gave us this land in the first place."
Remarks to National Campers and Hikers Association in Bowling Green, KY, July 12, 1984
"I believe in a sound, strong environmental policy that protects the health of our people and a wise stewardship of our nation's natural resources."
Radio address to nation on environmental and natural resources management, June 11, 1983
"I'm proud of having been one of the first to recognize that states and the federal government have a duty to protect our natural resources from the damaging effects of pollution that can accompany industrial development."
Radio address to nation on environmental issues, July 14, 1984
"What is a conservative after all but one who conserves, one who is committed to protecting and holding close the things by which we live...And we want to protect and conserve the land on which we live -- our countryside, our rivers and mountains, our plains and meadows and forests. This is our patrimony. This is what we leave to our children. And our great moral responsibility is to leave it to them either as we found it or better than we found it."
Remarks at dedication of National Geographic Society new headquarters building, June 19, 1984