John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks in Pueblo, Colorado Following Approval of the fryingpan-Arkansas Project

August 17, 1962

My friend and former colleague, Senator John Carroll; Governor McNichols; member of the Colorado congressional delegation; Senator .Allott; Chairman of the House Committee, who made this bill possible, my old colleague, Congressman Wayne Aspinail; Congressman Chenoweth; Congressman Dominick; Congressman Rogers; my former colleague in the Senate, Senator Johnson; your distinguished Lieutenant Governor Knous; Speaker Tomsic; distinguished Members of the Congress from California; ladies and gentlemen:

I don't think there is any more valuable lesson for a President or Member of the House and Senate than to fly as we have flown today over some of the bleakest land in the United States and then to come to a river and see what grows next to it, and come to this city and come to this town and come to this platform and know how vitally important water is.

To many Members of the Congress, to many Americans, the words Fryingpan-Arkansas must, of necessity, be a name which is taken on faith. But when they come here to this State and see how vitally important it is, not just to this State but to the West, to the United States, then they realize how important it is that all the people of the country support this project which belongs to all the people of the country. So I'm glad to be here today.

I hope that those of us who hold positions of public responsibility in 1962 are as farseeing about the needs of this country in 1982 and 1992 as those men and women were 30 years ago who began to make this project possible. The world may have been built in 7 days, but this project was built in 30 years, and it took labor, day in and day out, week in and week out, month in, month out, year in and year out, by Congressmen and Senators, and citizens, and the press of this State, to make this project possible, and it will be some years before its full benefits are made available to all of you.

What are we going to do in 1962, beginning today, to determine what projects we should develop so that by the end of this century, when there are 300 million people in the United States, there will be available to them land and water and light and power and resources, and places to live, and places to rest, and places to work?

So we salute this project today, and we salute those who made it possible. And we look to the future and we look to the past, and we commit ourselves in 1962 not only to celebrate this project, but to move ahead in all the other areas stretching from California to Cape Cod, Mass., in building this country up.

This is a national responsibility. When Theodore Roosevelt became President after being Vice President, the leader of his State said, "My God, they've put that cowboy in the White House." Well, because he had been a cowboy in North Dakota, and had spent some of the most significant years of his life there, he became committed to the development of the resources of the West. And every citizen who lives in the West owes Theodore Roosevelt, that cowboy, a debt of obligation.

And Franklin Roosevelt who lived in Hyde Park, where there's plenty of water and land and a generous life, he made it possible to develop the Missouri River and all the other projects, REA and all the rest, which have helped build this country of ours.

A Senator from Nebraska, George Norris, made it possible for the Tennessee Valley, 1,000 miles from Nebraska, to make a better life for millions of our fellow citizens who live there.

What I preach is the interdependence of the United States. We are not 50 countries-we are one country of 50 States and one people. And I believe that those programs which make life better for some of our people will make life better for all of our people.

A rising tide lifts all the boats. And as Colorado moves ahead, as your steel mill produces, it is benefiting all the people, as they are benefiting you. That's the lesson of this project, because it was passed by the Congressmen and Senators from this State, aided by a majority of the Congressmen and Senators from every part of the United States. They contribute to this program just as you contribute to their advancement, and in so doing help build our country up.

Therefore, I'm glad to be here today, and I'm glad to take part in a ceremony whose significance is far beyond this particular area. We are finally on our way to diverting water through the Continental Divide into the Arkansas River Basin, and we are going to make in this project an example of what can be done in other parts of our country who also look for water and cannot find it.

This is an investment in the future of this country, an investment that will repay large dividends. It is an investment in the growth of the West, in the new cities and industries which this project helps make possible. I salute the statesmanship of the leaders on both sides of the mountain, those who help provide the water and those who use it, those in northern California who provide the water, those in the south, those in the eastern United States who help provide the funds and those of you who use them.

That's what makes this country of ours so great. And I hope that in the 1960's we wilt commit ourselves to this same kind of mutual effort, and not regard those projects which aid our cities as inimical to Colorado or those projects which help our farmers as taking it way from our cities. Because that concept of the moving ahead of a great country on a great errand is what I think can give this country its leadership in the future as it has in the past.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the reclamation program initiated under Roosevelt, and this year is the first year in which the Congress has ever authorized two projects of the magnitude of Fryingpan-Arkansas and the San Juan Chama-Navajo project of New Mexico. Surely this is one of the most unusual projects in the entire 60 years. Like Colorado's pioneer Big Thompson, it will use a trans-mountain tunnel to bring water from the Pacific watershed to the Atlantic. Its water impounded at over 9,000 feet will drop through an unprecedented seven power plants to produce electricity for homes and factories and farms, and there will be new water for new people and new industries.

That is why this administration, and I am sure the administrations which will fob low, will continue to push for adequate investment in the development of all the resources of all of our States. And that is why I am hopeful that this Congress, before it adjourns, will have written a conservation record second to none, that it will have added three superb national seashores to our National Park System, one at Cape Cod, near where I live on the ocean, one at Point Reyes, in the Pacific, and the third at Padre Island in the Gulf coast of Texas; that it will have added to an already strong water pollution program an open space program for our cities; a significant wilderness bill; and youth employment opportunities which would authorize a youth conservation corps.

I would rather have those unemployed boys and girls who hang around on street corners today working in our parks and forests and making something of this country and their lives than staying at home and wondering what's going to become of them.

And I hope we will provide for the land conservation fund which will open up a whole new area of conservation. If we had not been able to 'purchase the Cape Cod Park this year, within 2 or 3 years it would have been too expensive. If we can buy these valuable projects today, they can be a great saving to our people 10 years from now. Every Member of Congress, everyone in the executive branch from the President on, in the field of national resources, has to plan during their period of administration or office for the next generation, because no project that we plan today will be beneficial to us. Anything we begin today is for those who come after us. And just as those who began something years ago make it possible for us to be here, I hope we'll fulfill our responsibility to the next generation that's going to follow us.

This demonstrates our confidence in the future. This is a great country, and I believe it deserves the best of its citizens. It is a rich country. Thirty years ago, as I said in South Dakota today, not 10 percent of our farms had electricity. Now they have lights and telephones, and they have the means of communicating with all of our country. Those people who come here from abroad, what they want to see is the Tennessee Valley. Ten years from now they'll want to see this project. And I hope in space and on the ground this country will continue its march forward.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke in the high school stadium at Pueblo, Colo. In his opening words he referred to U.S. Senator John Carroll, Governor Stephen L. R. McNichols, U.S. Senator Gordon L. Allott, U.S. Representatives Wayne N. Aspinall, J. Edgar Chenoweth, Peter H. Dominick, and Byron G. Rogers, former U.S. Senator Edwin C. Johnson, Lieutenant Governor Robert L. Knous, and former Speaker Albert Tomsic, State House of Representatives, all of Colorado.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks in Pueblo, Colorado Following Approval of the fryingpan-Arkansas Project Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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