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Monday, March 22, 2010

The passing of a conservation giant

Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior under presidents JF Kennedy and LB Johnson, passed away Saturday at age 90. It is unusual, and indeed strange, to refer to a cabinet member of the federal government as a "conservation giant", but that's what Secretary Udall was.

He was a thinking man, connected to the planet in meaningful ways, and this was reflected in his leadership at the Department of the Interior. Secretary Udall was directly involved and helped with the creation of North Cascades National Park (among many things). Harvey Manning and the NCCC wrote this of Udall in the book "Wilderness Alps Conservation and Conflict in Washington's North Cascades":

"The more distinct turning point [for conservation in the United States] occurred when [President Kennedy] appointed Arizona Congressman Stewart L. Udall as his Secretary of the Interior." ... " In the backing of the [1964] Wilderness Bill, three national seashores, and Redwoods National Park, [Udall] established himself as the greatest interior secretary since FDR's "Old Curmudgeon" Harold Ickes."

Indeed, Secretary Udall invited NCCC chairman (and current American Alps participant) Patrick Goldsworthy on a tour of Mount Rainier National Park, and while on that tour, assured Goldsworthy that THERE WOULD BE A NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK. This was in 1961, and the park was created in 1968. Now, in 2010, we're trying to complete that vision of an integrated, eco-system oriented North Cascades National Park.

I highly recommend reading "Wilderness Alps: Conservation and Conflict in Washington's North Cascades"--there is an amazing amount of information on the conservation history of this area, much of it is still pertinent and helpful to this very day, as we try to secure a way of life now, and for generations to come.
Thank you Secretary Udall!

-Tom Hammond

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