Former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall to Visit Point Reyes to Share the Story of Preserving a National Treasure

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Date: May 4, 2004
Contact: John Dell'Osso, 415-464-5135

To conservationists across the country Stewart L. Udall is a hero. Serving as Secretary of Interior for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson (1961-1969), Udall played a strategic role in fostering environmental awareness, expanding the national park system, and creating a national wilderness preservation system. During his tenure, many national park units were established adding critical protection to hundreds of thousands of acres. He played a key role in the formation of Point Reyes National Seashore as well as Cape Cod National Seashore, Assateague National Seashore, Canyonlands National Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Padre Island National Seashore, North Cascades National Park, and Redwood National Park.

Secretary Udall is planning two days of activities at the park as a way to keep alive the remarkable story of how community action saved this tremendous stretch of coastline. “Young people who weren’t alive at the time don’t realize what a remarkable story Point Reyes is,’ said Secretary Udall. “I am making this trip to keep alive the history and spirit of people taking action to protect America’s natural treasures.”

Mr. Udall will be at the Red Barn Classroom, Point Reyes National Seashore Headquarters Area, at 3:00 pm, May 8, 2004. He will do a short presentation and be available for conversation and a book signing. For more information, call Point Reyes Books at 415-663-1542. A donation of $20 is suggested for endangered species programs.

On Friday morning, Mr. Udall along with Harold Gilliam, former San Francisco Chronicle reporter and author of the book An Island in Time, and William Duddleson, the former Chief of Staff for the late Congressman Clem Miller, will hike out to the grave site of the late Congressman. He wrote and introduced the bill for the establishment of Point Reyes National Seashore and steered it past formidable legislative obstacles. The final victory on the Floor of the House has been called the most skillful piece of navigation since Drake piloted the Golden Hind into the bay at Point Reyes.

Congressman Miller took immense satisfaction in knowing that as a result of the long legislative struggle generations of Americans would find renewal of body and spirit along this wild coastline he had helped save for them. Three weeks after President John Kennedy signed the Point Reyes National Seashore bill into law, in 1962, Congressman Miller died in an airplane accident. He was 46. Harold Gilliam, the San Francisco Chronicle's environmental columnist, said: “What would probably please Clem Miller most would be the knowledge that his brief career as a legislator-conservationist might inspire young men and women to make careers of politics and conservation to save the vanishing natural landscape of America.”

Secretary Udall’s work helped pass the Wilderness Act in 1964 creating the National Wilderness Preservation System. By the stroke of President Kennedy’s pen, the Act created 9.2 million acres of wilderness across the country. Today, approximately 105 million acres have been protected as wilderness, about 4% of the United States.

We owe tremendous gratitude to Stewart Udall for saving the magnificent and culturally rich Point Reyes Peninsula. As Secretary of Interior, he played a key role in securing congressional and presidential support for the bill that created the Seashore. His work on the national level, combined with local support of key plays such as Harold Gilliam, Peter Behr, Edgar Wayburn, Congressman Clem Miller, and others paved the way for the new national park unit. Because of Udall’s vision and inspiration, President John F. Kennedy signed the legislation that created the National Seashore in September 1962.

Udall has published nine books, including The Quiet Crisis (1964) and The Myths of August (1994). His most recent book, The Forgotten Founders, Rethinking the History of the Old West (2002) is a provocative look at the history of the settlement of the western United States.


Last updated: February 28, 2015

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