President Barack Obama has called conservation “a cornerstone of my presidency”—and the numbers back him up. He has protected more American land and water than any of his predecessors, in part thanks to the Antiquities Act passed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. The act gives the executive branch the relatively unrestrained power to protect land by proclamation, without having to go through Congress. The Obama administration has also overseen the removal of more recovering animals and plants from the endangered species list than all previous administrations combined. “We believe the president is going to leave a significant conservation legacy through his leadership,” says Dan Chu, director of the Sierra Club's Our Wild America campaign.

By the numbers

360,000 square miles

Land federally protected by Theodore Roosevelt

6,250 square miles

Land federally protected by Barack Obama

856,000 square miles

Marine ecosystems federally protected by Barack Obama


New properties added to the National Park System under Obama


Endangered species delisted during Obama's time in office

SOURCES FOR STATISTICS: NATIONAL PARK SERVICE (Roosevelt-protected land and new parks); U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (Obama-protected land and water); U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE (endangered species delisted)