Jimmy Carter photo

Remarks on Accepting the Conservationist of the Year Award From the National Wildlife Federation

March 20, 1979

MR. SCROGGIN. Good morning, Mr. President.

Four years ago, you spoke to our annual meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and if I remember correctly, your airplane ran into a bank of snow out at the airport that morning; also encountered a St. Patrick's Day parade on the way to the hotel. But nevertheless, he made it on time, and he made one whale of a good speech.

In fact, the reason we had invited him to that particular program was that he had demonstrated that he was a conservationist Governor. And little did we realize that we'd be here, some 4 years later, presenting an award to a conservationist President.

Mr. President, I'd like to read the citation.

[At this point, Dr. Fred Scroggin, president of the National Wildlife Federation, read the citation, the text of which follows:


National Wildlife Federation is pleased to present its 1978 Conservationist of the Year Award to President Jimmy Carter in recognition of the noteworthy environmental record he has compiled during the first two years of his term in office. This record includes his appointment of outstanding persons to positions of authority in the protection of the environment and management of natural resources, his efforts to stop wasteful and destructive pork barrel water projects spending, his selection of the least environmentally objectionable route for the transmission of Alaskan gas, his strong support of endangered species and solar energy, and his initiative to establish a major urban recreation program. In December, 1978, his record was crowned by forceful, courageous, and imaginative action taken to protect large portions of the fragile ecosystem of Alaska, following failure of the 95th Congress to protect this magnificent national heritage from reckless development. By invoking the 1906 Antiquities Act and various sections of the Federal Land Policy Management Act to withdraw 110 million acres and to create national parks and monuments, wildlife refuges, wild and scenic rivers, forests and wildernesses, President Carter personally, and through the Interior Department, has assured that the unmatched wealth of natural resources they contain can be preserved for future generations of Americans.]

President Carter, on behalf of the officers, board of directors, staff, and National Wildlife Federation, it is my pleasure to present to you this statuette of a whooping crane, recognized as our top conservationist award for 1978.

Congratulations, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. President Fred Scroggin and my other friends in the National Wildlife Federation:

I don't know of any award that I could get that would mean more to me or be more in keeping with my lifetime love of the out-of-doors and the quality of our environment.

As you know, I grew up as a farmboy in the woods and fields and swamps of Georgia, and an important element of my life then, in the Navy, as Governor, as President, has been my love of the out-of-doors and the quality of life of American people.

As a hunter and a fisherman, as a canoeist, as a hiker, camper, lately as a cross-country skier, and in my other moments of diversion and enjoyment, there's no place that I would rather be than in the beautiful out-of-doors of our country.

I want to thank you for this award. For a long time in Government, the quality of our environment was either ignored or taken for granted. But in recent years, all of us have become increasingly concerned about how Americans will live now and in future generations, with the pressure of industrial development a major element in Americans lives.

The Wildlife Federation is a group of practical, dedicated, courageous, knowledgeable men and women who are committed to ensuring that the environment will stay in a high or improved quality and that Americans can continue to live a life of high quality.

We have had some accomplishments in the last 2 years, with your help, some notable accomplishments. But we have a long way to go. We cannot afford to take for granted any element of threat to America's out-of-doors or to the environment in which we live.

We still have not permanently resolved the question of the Alaska lands. My administrative action will stand until the Congress passes superior legislation. And if a threat is made to the standard that we have already established for the Alaskan lands, then I intend to use the full resources and authority of me, as President, to protect that beautiful country. We want to be fair to the people who live in Alaska. We want to develop our energy resources. But at the same time, these two desires to protect the quality of Alaska and to see it grow appropriately are not incompatible, in my opinion.

I have proposed to the Congress, or will shortly, the establishment of a department of natural resources, to bring into one coherent form an effort to use and to preserve the quality of our country. And this is not going to be an easy legislative effort. I need the help and support of the National Wildlife Federation as we embark on this new, major step toward realizing the goals that have held together your own federation.

I meet with Tom Kimball, representing your group, and with another very good group of environmentalists at least every 6 months. We sit around this table in the Cabinet Room, and we discuss the far-reaching aspects of the many decisions that a President has to make. These decisions that affect your and my goals are not just restrained to so-called environmental law; they affect almost every decision made here in Washington. And I know that with your continued support and interest and advice and counsel and, sometimes, criticisms when I don't meet your very high standards in every respect, that we can continue to make our partnership effective in preserving the beauty and quality of the life of people who live in the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you very much.

Note: The presentation ceremony began at 9:30 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks on Accepting the Conservationist of the Year Award From the National Wildlife Federation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249161

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