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.
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.