March 22 , 2010
AWC Responds to the Passing of Conservation Icon Stewart Udall
PHOENIX - The Arizona wilderness community expresses profound loss at the passing of former Arizona Congressman and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, one of America’s greatest champions for protecting our wild lands and waters. Udall died Saturday of natural causes at his home in Santa Fe, where he had lived since 1989. He was 90 years of age.
“Arizonans-and all Americans- have the Udalls to thank for the millions of acres of incredible public lands that we can all enjoy,” says Kevin Gaither-Banchoff, executive director of the Arizona Wilderness Coalition. “Stewart started a long legacy, first in Arizona and then at the national level, of showing America why our wild treasures must be protected. Now it’s our job to carry that legacy forward.”
Stewart Udall served three terms as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives before becoming Secretary of the Interior for the Kennedy and Johnson administrations from 1961 to 1969. He called for a new "land conscience" to preserve our natural heritage and spent much of his career helping to add more than 2 million acres to the National Park System and to champion the Clean Air Act, the Wilderness Act, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
Arizona offers 90 wilderness areas on its federal public lands and two wild & scenic rivers. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 1990 Arizona Desert Wilderness Act—a monumental conservation feat of Stewart’s brother Morris “Mo” Udall, who adopted his seat in Congress when Stewart left for his post in the Kennedy Administration. The 1990 bill set aside 39 different wilderness areas on public lands in Arizona, many of which are just a stone’s throw from millions of people in metro Phoenix and Tucson.
“People move to Arizona for many different reasons,” says Katurah Mackay, communications director with the Arizona Wilderness Coalition, “but you’ll find that underneath them all, it’s mainly because of the beauty, wildlife, and access to wild public lands that people love Arizona. Stewart and his brother, Mo, rallied others in Washington, like John McCain and Barry Goldwater, to protect what makes this state thrive.”
“Arizona can enjoy a portion of the Verde River and now Fossil Creek as Wild and Scenic Rivers—both of which would not have been possible without the legislation that Stewart championed,” says Gaither-Banchoff. “The Wilderness Act alone, passed in 1964, has been used to protect more than 4 million acres of wilderness lands in Arizona—watersheds, critical wildlife habitat, and spectacular hunting and fishing spots. There are many more special places in Arizona that are worthy of wilderness designation.”
Katurah Mackay, Communications Director, 602-571-2603
Kevin Gaither-Banchoff, Executive Director, 520-326-4300