Stewart Udall, pioneering champion of U.S. wild spaces, dies at 90

Speaking Friday night at the annual Colorado Trout Unlimited gala at the Arvada Center, a $100 a head sit-down dinner, Colorado U.S. Senator Mark Udall compared the outdoor sporting opportunities in DC to those in Colorado and sounded like a true native of the West: “Pull a fish out of the Potomac, you’ll get a rash,” he said.

The quip now seems a poignant nod to Sen. Udall’s uncle, former United States Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, who passed away this morning, Saturday, at 90 years of age of natural causes. Stewart Udall, father of current U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M., was a pioneering champion of American wildlife and wild spaces.

Stewart Udall
Stewart Udall

A World War II veteran and former U.S. Congressman, Udall is most remembered for his work as head of the Interior department, which he helmed under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Udall introduced the Wilderness Act, which created the National Wilderness Preservation System, and the Endangered Species Act of 1966, which preceded the modern Endangered Species Act. He also expanded the National Park System.

During his eight years as Secretary, the National Park System expanded to include four new national parks, six new national monuments, eight seashores and lakeshores, nine recreation areas, 20 historic sites, and 56 wildlife refuges. In other words, Udall expanded the number of stunning natural places where you can spend weeks pulling fish out of rivers or just strolling around and thinking and breathing without ever catching a an industrial-life rash.

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Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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