Natural Resources: The Education of Wally Hickel

Senators, editorial writers and conservationists were aghast last winter when the Nixon Administration nominated Alaska's Governor Walter J. Hickel to succeed Stewart L. Udall as Secretary of the Interior — a job that Udall had performed with such ecological sensitivity that many thought he should be called Secretary of the Environment. At first glance, Hickel was so depressingly different that some reacted as if Satan had been promoted to guard St. Peter's gate.

A roughhewn go-getter of 49, Hickel was the 1938 Golden Gloves welter weight champion of Kansas and never went to college. During his 29 years in...

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