Stewart Udall

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My father Stewart Udall is rightly celebrated as a visionary statesman of the modern conservation movement. His legacy as Secretary of the Interior from 1961 to '69 is marked by such accomplishments as the creation of four national parks, six national monuments, eight seashores and lakeshores, 20 historic sites and 50 wildlife refuges. But I believe it is his influence on the way we think about conservation that may have the most lasting impact.

Nearly 50 years ago my father, who died March 20 at 90, wrote The Quiet Crisis to warn Americans against the overuse of natural resources and the loss of open spaces. He urged the adoption of a new land consciousness to protect the environment and argued that the ideals inherent in the preservation of wilderness, watersheds and recreation areas must be given the same value as the benefits derived from exploiting our abundant resources. Such convictions were consistent with his commitment to public service and social justice. During his time at the Interior Department, he also required the Washington Redskins to integrate before he allowed them to play in a stadium built on public land.

My father believed that a commitment to conservation transcended the partisan divide. He dreamed that a commitment to conservation could bring this country together again.

Udall is a U.S. Senator from New Mexico