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Federal Programs and Legislation

Stewart Udall on the National Trails System anniversary

President John F. Kennedy appointed Stewart Udall Secretary of Interior in 1961.

Read more on the 40th anniversary of the Act and facts about the National Trails System Act.

Quotes from Secretary Udall's article that ran in the Albuquerque Journal on December 31, 2007:

"The future of our trail system will continue to depend on the generosity of private land owners as well as the continuing efforts of volunteers.

"Supporting our national trails is more than an exercise in nostalgia. Think of how much richer a child's knowledge of history might be after a few days spent along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

"Imagine how a student's grasp of our constitutional liberties might benefit from a drive along the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, where civil rights marchers braved billy clubs and tear gas in 1965 to campaign for voting rights for African American citizens."

Excerpts from an acceptance letter Stewart Udall wrote to the NRCA/PNTS in gratitude for the Award he received at the Banquet:

"... For two decades after World War II, Americans waited for leadership on conservation. President Kennedy provided that leadership shortly after taking office by proposing a wilderness bill that passed 8 to 1 in the U.S. Senate. At that time, leaders of both parties produced legislation that rewrote our covenant with the earth. This consensus lasted longer than most Americans know. It was alive when President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act. It was alive when President Ford passed a 55-mile per hour speed limit. And it was alive when Ford told the car companies— located in his home state of Michigan— that their fleets needed to be more efficient.

"The consensus in Washington lasted because it reflected a consensus among the American people. The legislation that we celebrate today started with a feeling in this country that the time had come for new ideas, new solutions. Americans recognized that we could not be fully human in an environment defiled by greed. We could not touch the higher parts of our nature in a world whose beauty had been sold to the highest bidder.

"I believe that we are at the beginning of another conservationist consensus. The American people understand that prosperity and sustainability can go hand in hand. They understand that we face environmental threats— from global warming to the blight of sprawl— that demand a response equal to the challenge. Thanks to your hard work, this decade may produce achievements that dwarf the victories I was privileged to be a part of forty years ago. I wish you luck."

For more information on the National Trails System and its 40-Year Anniversary:

Resources from our partners:

National Park Service site for the National Trails System

Interview with Steve Elkinton, Program Leader for the National Trails System

 

Join American Trails

 

Related topics:

More resources:

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