Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing Bill To Designate the San Rafael Wilderness, California

March 21, 1968

Secretary Udall, Congressman Aspinall, distinguished Members of the Congress, ladies and gentlemen:

We have come here to the Cabinet Room this morning to preserve another part of America's richest legacy--the land itself.

We assure that more of our beautiful country is going to remain forever wild, remain just as the first American saw it, just as God made it.

The bill that we will sign this morning will cost the taxpayer nothing, yet we think that it will enrich America forever.

The Wilderness Act that I signed in 1964 was a milestone in conservation. It represented the thoughts and the dreams of leading conservationists--like Secretary Udall and others, who had worked with him. They finally were able to bring to me a bill that incorporated into law their vision. It set aside 9 million unspoiled acres.

As we meet here, we are participants today in adding to that another 143,000 acres-the San Rafael Wilderness.

San Rafael is rocky, rugged, wooded, and lonely.

It is lonely, but it is also near enough to be only an hour's drive from the homes of millions of Americans.

San Rafael is part of the new conservation, the enlightened land policy that puts parks where people can get to them.

In the last few years--with the help of a conservation-minded Congress and leaders of public thought in this country and public life and private life--we have been able to put 32 seashores, lakeshores, and parks near our large metropolitan centers. That has made them within easy drive of 120 million people.

A growing America will absorb about one million acres a year. But this year we are going to turn a million and a half acres into parks and seashores, forests, and wilderness for the people.

We will be putting back into the public domain more land than we are taking out, for a change.

I want so much to protect and extend the legacy of our land. I want so much to take the pieces of our birthright that we should never have lost--and I want to reclaim them, restore them, and return them to the American people.

San Rafael is part of that work. I have asked the Congress to approve three other wilderness areas. Soon I am going to ask them to approve some more.

Wilderness parks should be a part of the America of tomorrow--the kind of America that we think we are building today.

I am very proud to sign this bill. I believe that it will enrich the spirit of America.

We can be sure that, when the terrible trials of this generation are only ancient memories, what we do today will still endure.

I am so glad that we still have in our country dedicated men who make it their first concern to conserve our resources, to make it possible for our children to enjoy some of the things that are our blessings.

To Secretary Udall, who has been in the forefront of all of these conservation movements, to Mr. Laurance Rockefeller, and to all the other conservation organizations and societies and groups, on behalf of the American people, I say to them--along with the Members of Congress who have helped them, who have supported them, and who have put their own necks on the line in passing measures of this kind--well done, and thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 1235 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Stewart L. Udall, Secretary of the Interior, and Representative Wayne N. Aspinall of Colorado. During his remarks he referred to Laurance S. Rockefeller, Chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Recreation and Natural Beauty.

As enacted, the bill (S. 889) is Public Law 90271 (82 Stat. 51).

For the President's remarks upon signing the Wilderness Act on September 3, 1964, see 1963-64 volume, this series, Book II, Item 554.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing Bill To Designate the San Rafael Wilderness, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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