Sunday, March 21, 2010

Deceased--Stewart L. Udall

International Year of Biodiversity

Stewart L. Udall
January 31st, 1920 to March 20th, 2010

"Stewart L. Udall dies at 90; Interior secretary championed national parks"

Udall promoted the idea that government should preserve vast areas of wilderness. He also served in Congress and later led a crusade on behalf of victims of radiation exposure.


Jessica Garrison

March 21st, 2010

Stewart L. Udall, who as Interior secretary in the 1960s vastly expanded the country's system of national parks and monuments and developed far-reaching legislation to protect public lands, has died. He was 90.

Udall died Saturday morning at his home in Santa Fe, N.M., surrounded by his children, according to a statement from his son, Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico. He died of natural causes after a fall last week that had kept him confined to bed.

Udall, who served in Congress and later led a crusade on behalf of victims of radiation exposure, had many accomplishments during his decades of public service. But his most important legacy came from championing the idea that government should preserve vast areas of land.

"Any wilderness area, any national park and national monument -- wherever you live in the United States now, there is one relatively close to you. He created the spirit that made all those things possible," said Carl Pope, chairman of the Sierra Club

"In 1960, most Americans lived thousands of miles from any national park," he said. "They don't anymore."

During the eight years that Udall served under presidents Kennedy and Johnson, he worked with the Sierra Club to create Redwood National Park along California's northern coast.

He also oversaw the creation of Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, North Cascades National Park in Washington state and Canyonlands National Park in Utah, along with the Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts and the Point Reyes National Seashore north of San Francisco.

He also helped write numerous pieces of legislation, including the Wilderness Act of 1964, which protects millions of acres.

"Many people at the time thought it was a crazy idea," he told the New York Times in 1989.

Stewart Lee Udall was born Jan. 31, 1920, in St. Johns, Ariz. He was one of five children raised on a small subsistence farm in the northeastern corner of the state, not far from Zuni and Navajo reservations.

His grandfather David King Udall founded the town after moving from Utah in 1880 as a Mormon missionary. Udall's father, Jesse, served as chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

Udall attended Thatcher Junior College and then the University of Arizona, pausing his studies to serve as a Mormon missionary in New York and Pennsylvania and as a B-24 tail gunner in Italy during World War II.

After the war, he returned to finish his degree and attend law school.

In 1954, Udall was elected to Congress and held the seat until President Kennedy tapped him to become secretary of the Interior. His brother Morris succeeded him in Congress. Morris' son Mark is a Democratic senator from Colorado.

Udall left government in 1969 and stayed in Washington for another decade practicing law and writing books.

He returned to Arizona in 1979 and pursued a lawsuit against the government on behalf of Navajo men who mined uranium and later developed cancer. The suit failed.

In 1994 Udall published a book that drew on that experience, "The Myths of August: A Personal Exploration of Our Tragic Cold War Affair with the Atom." In it he argued that leaders and scientists, intoxicated by the power of nuclear weapons, forged a secret national security state and that there was no military need for the United States to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"Whether in the skies above Italy in World War II, in Congress or as secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall left an indelible mark on this nation and inspired countless Americans who will continue his fight for clean air, clean water and to maintain our many natural treasures," President Obama said in a statement Saturday.

Udall, who counted poet Robert Frost and actor Robert Redford among his friends, was a committed outdoorsman.

During his years in Washington, he took his children to Interior Department outposts in the area on weekends and rafting down Western rivers in the summer.

A few years ago he trekked with a grandson 7,000 feet up Bright Angel Trail, from the floor of the Grand Canyon to the South Rim. He refused a National Park Service offer of a mule.

His family "wouldn't have liked it if I hadn't made it," he noted, "but what a way to go." Upon completing his ascent, he headed straight into the bar at the Tovar Lodge and ordered a martini.

Udall was married for 55 years to Erma Lee Udall. She died in 2001. He is survived by their six children and eight grandchildren.

"Stewart L. Udall, 90, Conservationist in Kennedy and Johnson Cabinets, Dies"


Keith Schneider

March 20th, 2010

The New York Times

Stewart L. Udall, an ardent conservationist and a son of the West, who as interior secretary in the 1960s presided over vast increases in national park holdings and the public domain, died on Saturday at his home in Santa Fe, N.M. The last surviving member of the original Kennedy cabinet, he was 90.

Mr. Udall had been in failing health after a fall last week, according to his son Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico.

Though he was a liberal Democrat from the increasingly conservative and Republican West, Stewart Udall said in a 2003 public television interview that he found in Washington “a big tent on the environment.”

The result was the addition of vast tracts to the nation’s land holdings and — through his strong ties with lawmakers, conservationists, writers and others — work that led to landmark statutes on air, water and land conservation.

President Obama said in a statement Saturday night that Mr. Udall “left an indelible mark on this nation and inspired countless Americans who will continue his fight for clean air, clean water and to maintain our many natural treasures.”

Few corners of the nation escaped Mr. Udall’s touch. As interior secretary in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, he presided over the acquisition of 3.85 million acres of new holdings, including 4 national parks — Canyonlands in Utah, Redwood in California, North Cascades in Washington State and Guadalupe Mountains in Texas — 6 national monuments, 9 national recreation areas, 20 historic sites, 50 wildlife refuges and 8 national seashores. He also had an interest in preserving historic sites, and helped saved Carnegie Hall from destruction.

“Republicans and Democrats, we all worked together,” Mr. Udall said in a television interview with Bill Moyers. But by the time of that interview, Mr. Udall added that Washington had been overtaken by money and that people seeking public office fought for contributions from business interests that viewed environmental protection as a detriment to profit at best.

In his years in Washington, he won high regard from many quarters for his efforts to preserve the American landscape and to educate his fellow Americans on the value of natural beauty, points he made in his 1963 book “The Quiet Crisis.” The book, whose aim, he wrote at the time, was to “outline the land and people story of our continent,” sold widely.

It was Mr. Udall who suggested that John. F. Kennedy invite Robert Frost to recite a poem at Mr. Kennedy’s Inauguration. Mr. Udall accompanied Mr. Frost to the Soviet Union in 1962, a trip meant to foster better ties with Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev.

Mr. Udall also held evenings at the Interior Department with the poet Carl Sandburg and the actor Hal Holbrook. In addition, he invited the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wallace Stegner to be the department’s writer in residence. It was Mr. Stegner’s presence that prompted Mr. Udall to write “The Quiet Crisis.”

Mr. Udall was also an early supporter of Rachel Carson, the biologist whose book “Silent Spring” brought attention to the environmental hazards of pesticide use.

Mr. Udall stepped onto the national stage in 1954, when he was elected to Congress from Arizona. In the hotly fought Democratic presidential primary of 1960, he urged his fellow Arizona Democrats to support Kennedy. When Kennedy won the White House, he nominated Mr. Udall as interior secretary

After Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Mr. Udall was kept on by Lyndon B. Johnson.

“I think probably part of that was Lady Bird,” Mr. Udall said, referring to Mr. Johnson’s wife, with whom he collaborated on beautifying the nation’s capital and similar projects. “She treasured me and we were wonderful friends,” he added.

Roger G. Kennedy, who was director of the National Park Service in the 1990s, said Mr. Udall “escaped the notion that all public land was essentially a cropping opportunity — the idea that if you cannot raise timber on it or take a deer off it, it wasn’t valuable.” On the other hand, Mr. Kennedy said, Mr. Udall understood that public lands like parks enhanced the economic value of privately held land nearby.

This lesson was sometimes communicated with difficulty. For example, in the 1960s, when the Kennedy administration, with Mr. Udall in the lead, began efforts to establish the nation’s first national seashores, people in regions including Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, and Point Reyes in California objected that taking coastal land out of private hands would ruinously inhibit economic development.

Instead, the parks have been beacons for lucrative tourism.

On this and other fronts Mr. Udall pushed with a formidable combination of political acumen and political allies — including his brother Morris K. Udall, who succeeded him in Congress and in 1976 ran for president in a campaign that his elder brother managed. Much of the significant environmental and land-protection statutes that became law in the 1970s and ’80s, including the Endangered Species Act, bore their stamp and influence.

“That was a wonderful time, and it carried through into the Nixon administration, into the Ford administration, into the Carter administration,” Stewart Udall said. “It lasted for 20 years. I don’t remember a big fight between the Republicans and Democrats in the Nixon administration or President Gerald Ford and so on. There was a consensus that the country needed more conservation projects of the kind that we were proposing.”

Stewart Lee Udall was born on Jan. 31, 1920, in St. Johns, Ariz., a small community in Apache County in the northeast, into a family with strong ties to the Mormon Church. His mother, Louise Lee Udall, was a granddaughter of John Doyle Lee, who was executed in 1877 for his involvement in the Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah, in which a wagon train of California-bound migrants were killed in 1857.

Mr. Udall served as a Mormon missionary in Pennsylvania and New York. During World War II, he was a gunner in the 15th Army Air Forces, serving in Europe.

He received bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Arizona. After graduating from law school in 1948, he started his own law practice in Tucson, where he and his brother Morris later became partners.

After leaving Washington, he taught at Yale, practiced law and wrote several books including “The Myths of August” an account of the effects of uranium mining and nuclear weapons work in the Western desert.

That grew out of his representation of thousands of uranium miners, nuclear weapons industry workers, and citizens exposed to radiation from atomic weapons manufacturing and testing in the West.

Though he won the first case in 1984 in Federal District Court, an appeals court overturned the ruling and the United States Supreme Court declined in 1988 to hear arguments. Mr. Udall then turned to Congress, working with lawmakers of both parties, particularly Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, and Senator Edward M. Kennedy. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. The law, administered by the Justice Department, provided up to $100,000 for those sickened by radiation exposure, and issued a formal apology for harm done to those who were “subjected to increased risk of injury and disease to serve the national security interests of the United States.”

Throughout his life he relished physical challenges. He was an all-conference guard on the University of Arizona basketball team and he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, in East Africa, and Mount Fuji, in Japan, while heading American delegations to both regions. When he was 84, at the end of his last rafting trip on the Colorado River, Mr. Udall hiked up the steep Bright Angel Trail from the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the south rim, a 10-hour walk that he celebrated at the end with a martini.

Mr. Udall’s wife, the former Irmalee Webb, died in 2001. Besides his son Tom, he is also survived by his other sons, Scott, Denis and Jay, and his daughters, Lynn and Lori, as well as eight grandchildren.

At his death, Mr. Udall was a senior member of one of the nation’s last and largest political dynasties — in the West it was often said there were “oodles of Udalls” in politics. David King Udall served in the Arizona Territorial legislature; Levi Udall was for decades an elected judge in the Arizona Superior Court and later a justice and chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court; Mr. Udall’s brother Morris was followed to Washington by his son Mark Udall, elected in 2008 as a senator from Colorado, the same year that Tom Udall was elected.

But Tom Udall said that in recent years his father had become greatly concerned over the state of politics in the country, worrying “we were losing the bipartisanship in the environmental area.”

He added that Mr. Udall had recently written a letter to his grandchildren, urging them to focus on “trying to transform our society to a clean energy and clean job society.”

The Myths of August: A Personal Exploration of Our Tragic Cold War Affair with the Atom


Stewart L. Udall

ISBN-10: 0813525462
ISBN-13: 978-0813525464

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