Economic and Ecological Disaster

1930 – 1940

At the dawn of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration, both of which brought additional staffing to the burgeoning public lands system. Environmentalists, including Jay N. “Ding” Darling, continued to push for additional legislation and land protections to aid in wildlife preservation.
Dust Storm

Dust storm in Great Plains (1935)


2 BILLION HUMANS: The world human population doubles to two billion.  Learn more.


CCC AND WPA: Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration are established, employing over 3,000,000 on national and state parks, forests, and wildlife refuges to build roads, trails, water holes, lakes, and fire lakes to improve fish and wildlife habitat.  Learn more about WPA.  Learn more about CCC.

ROBERT MARSHALL’S PLEA: In Scientific Monthly, a young plant physiologist named Robert Marshall calls for the “identification and rescue” of remaining wilderness habitat.  Learn more.


DING DARLING: Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Jay N. “Ding” Darling becomes chief of the Biological Survey a year after lambasting Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s wildlife programs.  Learn more.

DUCK STAMP ACT: The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act passes. “Ding” Darling is the artist for the first stamp. His “phantom squads,” federal agents and local deputies, put market hunters out of business in Illinois, Maryland, and California.  Learn more.

REFUGE PUSH: Aldo Leopold, “Ding” Darling, and Thomas Beck request $1,000,000 for refuges; Darling plans refuges along the Mississippi flyway from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as other locations, but without federal funds.  Learn more.


COOPERATIVE WILDLIFE REFUGE UNITS: Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit program is established by “Ding” Darling. Ten land-grant colleges are selected to initiate a wildlife research and training program under supervision of the Biological Survey.  Learn more.

NORTH AMERICAN WILDLIFE CONFERENCE: Franklin Delano Roosevelt calls for the first North American Wildlife Conference to bring together all local, state, and federal fish and wildlife conservation groups, public and private; “Ding” Darling is a committee member.   Learn more.

WILDERNESS SOCIETY: Wilderness Society is founded by Aldo Leopold and Robert Marshall to establish wild areas in a natural state; during this time, the Gila Wilderness Area is established in New Mexico.  Learn more.

LACEY ACT AMENDED: Lacey Act is amended to prohibit foreign commerce of illegally taken wildlife.  Learn more.


NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION: The National Wildlife Federation, which linked all state conservation clubs, is founded by “Ding” Darling a year after he first proposed it; he serves as its first president. By the 1980s, the NWF would have 4.6 million members.  Learn more.


PITTMAN-ROBERTSON ACT: Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act earmarks an excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition for exclusive use in wildlife restoration programs by states and territories.  Learn more.

DUCKS UNLIMITED: Ducks Unlimited is formed to restore duck breeding marshes in Canada where the federal government of the United States could not act.  Learn more.