Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing Bill To Enlarge the Land and Water Conservation Fund

July 15, 1968

Secretary Udall, distinguished Members of the Senate and Members of the House, Mrs. Johnson, ladies and gentlemen:

Once again we meet this morning in the East Room of the White House to bring a little bit of green and beauty and happiness into the lives of the 200 million American people that we are selected to represent.

In our day, we have given the word "conservation," I think, a new meaning. We are preserving the splendor of great stretches of the American Continent. We are at last reclaiming and saving more land than the bulldozer plows under. We are bringing places of recreation within easy reach of all the families of this country.

Half a century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt became known as the Father of Conservation. In his administration, he and his chief forester, Gifford Pinchot, finally persuaded the Congress to appropriate a few million dollars to put aside land, some of it remotely located---even though the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Uncle Joe Cannon, was vowing all the time and I quote, "Not one cent for scenery."

Three and a half years ago, we established the first Federal fund exclusively devoted to conservation and recreation in the United States of America.

That fund has already provided an investment of $300 million in the happiness of the American people--many, many times more than all the conservation appropriations put together during the great conservation days of Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot.

That investment has added hundreds of thousands of acres of park and forest land for the use of our 200 million people and a great deal of it in just a few hours drive from their homes. It has put bicycle paths and it has put baseball diamonds into the growing suburbia. It has brought swimming pools, playgrounds, seesaws, and bars into the crowded cities--I mean crossbars. [Laughter]

But the Land and Water Conservation Fund has not been big enough to meet the demands of this growing Nation. The measure that we have come here today to sign will enlarge the fund--as I requested--with revenues from mineral leases in the outer continental shelf. It is a tribute to the imagination and the efforts of Secretary Udall, Chairman Jackson, and the other distinguished Members of the House and Members of the Senate, who through the months have worked on this legislation.

I predict when the history of this era is written that the names of all of those in the Senate and in the House who worked on it will shine with great pride to their grandchildren, because that shelf belongs to all the people--that continental shelf.

And now the receipts from its use can be applied to benefits for all the people. With this bill, the fund is going to be doubled--to $200 million a year for the next 5 years.

Because of what we do here this morning, the life of many a little child will be brighter, and the experience of many who enjoy family life will be enriched.

So this is a day beyond the dearest vision of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt and other great conservationists who have preceded us. How cheered they would have been to know that a Congress and an administration decades--and a half a century later in Theodore Roosevelt's case-would so broaden and so expand the vistas of the American people.

I would like to call the names of everyone who has made a contribution here. The roll calls and the hearings will show that.

But Chairman Jackson and Senator Kuchel, Chairman Aspinall and the leading Members of the Senate and House committees and particularly to Secretary Udall, I on behalf of all the Nation--and Mrs. Hansen, I sure don't want to leave you out because we need appropriations, too, from time to time -- I say to all the House and Senate, we are in your debt.

We are grateful for this significant advance forward.

Note: The President spoke at 11:45 a.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall. Later he referred to, among others, Senator Henry M. Jackson of Washington, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, Senator Thomas H. Kuchel of California, member of the committee, Representative Wayne N. Aspinall of Colorado, Chairman of the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, and Representative Julia Butler Hansen of Washington, member of the House Appropriations Committee.

As enacted, the bill (S. 1401) is Public Law 90401 (82 Stat. 354).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing Bill To Enlarge the Land and Water Conservation Fund Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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