Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stewart Udall, RIP

I am saddened to learn of the death of Stewart Udall.

One of the most important environmental figures of the 20th century, Udall was the Secretary of the Interior  under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. During those years, Udall crafted some of the most important land-use legislation in our history. The jewel in his crown was the 1964 Wilderness Act, preserving millions of acres in the American West from development. Udall also helped slow the ridiculous dam-buildings projects proposed by the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps on Engineers. Udall helped create 4 new national parks, 6 national monuments, and 50 wildlife refuges.

Udall also supported the findings of Rachel Carson. Carson, in her seminal book, Silent Spring, reported on incredible damage the unregulated spraying of pesticides had caused the environment. The chemical and agricultural industries attacked Carson in all sorts of nasty ways, but Udall's support helped turn Kennedy and Johnson to her point of view, eventually leading to the outlawing of DDT and other pesticides.

Stewart Udall was a national treasure and it is very sad to lose him.