From Environmental Graffiti
I think it’s safe to say that Lincoln is not really remembered for his environmental legacy. Freeing the slaves and presiding over the Union during the Civil War were far more famous and important, and they deservedly overshadow his accomplishments in other areas.
Just because he’s not remembered as an environmentalist doesn’t mean he didn’t do anything for the environment though. In 1862 Lincoln established the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). At the time more than 90% of Americans were farmers, so this was an important and powerful department. The USDA still has a major impact on our environment, as does U.S. agriculture.
That wasn’t Lincoln’s only contribution to the environment and the sciences. He authorized the establishment of the National Academy of Sciences in 1863. He also signed one of the first conservation laws, which helped lay the foundations of the national park service. In 1864 Lincoln signed a bill which established protection for the Yosemite Valley in California. The aim of the bill was the protection of the valley’s trees, an idea that had gained support when a massive and famous redwood called the Mother of the Forest was felled in 1851, sparking outrage across the country.