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Transitions: remembering supporters of trails, parks, and open space

Remembering Lady Bird Johnson, Colin Fletcher, and Kathy Jenkins.

From the Fall 2007 issue of the American Trails Magazine.

Lady Bird Johnson, "champion of conservation"

LADY BIRD JOHNSON came to national prominence as First Lady of the United States from 1963 to 1969 as the wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson. She died July 11, 2007, at the age of 94. Throughout her long life, she was an advocate for conservation of natural resources, and made that her major initiative as First Lady.

Born Claudia Alta Taylor, she was given the nickname "Lady Bird" by her nurse. The Washington Post called her a "champion of conservation" and noted that "Her partnership with her husband on beautification had gone on since their work on Texas roadside parks in the 1930s." In the 1970s, she supported the Austin riverfront area through the Town Lake Beautification Project. In 2007, Town Lake was posthumously renamed Lady Bird Lake to honor her efforts.

"Where flowers bloom, so does hope," said Lady Bird Johnson. She is perhaps best know for her campaigns to protect wildflowers and promote the planting of them along highways. Marianne Fowler, American Trails Board Member, said, "All the lovely daffodils that grace the Capital each spring are Lady BirdŐs gift to us." Mrs. Johnson loved the out of doors and worked to implement her husbandŐs national recognition program— the National Trails System Act of 1968. The Act will celebrate its 40th Anniversary in 2008.

Colin Fletcher, author and backpacking advocate

By Seth Levy, American Hiking Society

Colin Fletcher began his epic travelogue, The Man Who Walked Through Time, with a brief disclaimer, explaining his curious habit of walking long distances to readers who he felt needed this sort of explanation. This was 1967, when backpacking itself needed extensive explanation. Before many Americans even had a context in which to fit FletcherŐs rich, meditative work. When the question, "You walked from here to where?" was a good deal more common than it might be these days.

Today, although many Americans still look with wonder and surprise at those who explore our beautiful country on foot, we at American Hiking Society have the luxury of pursuing our mission to protect foot trails and promote the hiking experience in a country where 70 million Americans took to the trails last year.

More than ever before, we recognize that the health, economic, social and environmental benefits that are enjoyed by millions of Americans, are due in no small part, to the inspiring, earthy and awe-filled writings of Colin Fletcher. American Hiking Society mourns the loss of this pioneer and celebrates his life in profound gratitude of his example as a life led as a hiker, an activist and an artist par excellence.

Kathy Jenkins, longtime American Trails staffer

By Pam Gluck, Executive Director, American Trails

Kathy Jenkins worked for American Trails for three years and enthusiastically contributed to the success of the organization and of the 2000, 2002, and 2004 National Trails Symposiums. She made a lot of friends in the trails community and people across the nation and as far away as Canada and Australia are responding with sadness to her death. She touched the lives of so many. She will be missed...

Read more about Kathy Jenkins and her many intereests and accomplishments

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