Stewart Udall – an environmental hero

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The earth needs your devotion and tender care


Recently, I spent some time visiting Canyonlands National Park in Utah.  I was particularly moved by the magnificent vista that surrounded and included the convergence of the Colorado River and the Green River. “Awesome” is an understatement. Later, I was deeply inspired by the story on a plaque that described the vision of the newly appointed Secretary of the Interior,  Stewart Udall’s vision for this new park.  On a flight over this area in the early 1960s, then Bureau of Reclamation Chief Floyd Dominy showed Udall where he wanted to build a big dam: just below the Confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers. But where Dominy saw a reservoir, Stewart Udall saw a national park. Driven by Udall’s vision, Canyonlands ultimately became a national park.


This story has a deep significance in my mind and soul because, in 2018 as I write this essay, we live in the era of Donald Trump and his highly unqualified political appointee, Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke. While Stewart Udall and Ryan Zinke may have similar backgrounds as elected officials, Stewart Udall can be characterized by what he has said to his children and grandchildren:


Whether you are a person of faith who believes the Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, whether you are an individual who has had mystical experiences that link you to the network of eternity, or whether you are a fervent conservationist who wants to leave a legacy for your progeny, the earth needs your devotion and tender care. Go well, do well, my children! Support all endeavors that promise a better life for the inhabitants of our planet. Cherish sunsets, wild creations, and wild places. Have a love affair with the wonder and beauty of the earth!”


We have a moral duty to leave a legacy


Udall went on to say:


“We have a moral duty to leave a legacy. Keeping Earth a home not only for humans but for animals and birds and other creatures that share this planet with us.”



Ryan Zinke spent his first year in office selling off rights to our public lands. Donald Trump’s Interior secretary is taking extraordinary steps to put public lands in private hands. Vox  reports that :

” Since he (Ryan Zinke) was sworn in on March 1, 2017, to lead the $12 billion agency in charge of federal lands and natural resources, he’s made unprecedented changes that could leave a lasting mark on America’s wilderness and its environment. From his recent proposal to open almost all of America’s coast to offshore drilling to rolling back federal protections on national monuments, Zinke has taken extraordinary steps to make public lands more accessible to fossil fuel companies and other industries. Part of what he’s doing is selling mineral and energy rights to our public lands through leases — and potentially lowering royalties for industries in the process. In line with Trump’s interest in expanding mining on federal lands, Zinke has made critical mineral production a top priority.”


Stewart Udall’s vision of building a legacy of environmental consciousness within our children and youth has also been the vision of environmental educators worldwide. It is this vision that will change the environmentally destructive worldview of western civilization . This vision has the potential of reversing the current pathway to human misery that threatens to be a reality starting about 2050.


Humanity cannot afford to advocate the destructive culture of creatures like Ryan Zinke or his boss. We desperately need another Stewart Udall in Washington as well as the strength of environmental educators as they create a constructive and sustainable legacy through their students and with their elected representatives. Read more:


Why Do I Write These Essays?

Nothing in Nature exists in isolation. The movement of life’s energy, which originates in the sun, takes place because everything is interconnected and interdependent. Your consciousness of interdependence in Nature means that, every time you engage Nature, you ask yourself how a creature, a plant, yourself, or a natural object is connected to another and to Nature’s greater scheme of things. With this awareness you are prepared to protect Nature’s environment that sustains you. And, you create your legacy by encouraging others to do likewise.


If, after reading my essays, you find yourself embracing these ideas, I am thrilled in knowing that I’ve played some small part in setting this world view in motion in your mind.


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My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.

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