The preservation movement contrasted sharply with the conservation movement of the progressive era.
The conservation movement looked to the planned use of natural resources, whereas the preservation movement looked to stopping the despoliation of natural areas. The leading preservationist of these years was John Muir (1838-1914).
(Image from Corbis Beckman)
The differences between conservation and preservation were perhaps less acute in the early years of the twentieth century than they were eventually to become after the population of the United States expanded dramatically. In the absence of population pressures, at least in the western part of the nation, the two movements could co-exist peacefully except for incidents like the construction of the dam.
Theodore Roosevelt supported both conservation and preservation. Roosevelt moved vigorously to expand the nation's infant system of national parks and national monuments in order to prevent commercial and private exploitation of important pristine natural areas.