Stewart Udall died today, the first day of Spring, at the age of 90. President John F. Kennedy named the Arizona-born Udall Secretary of the Interior in 1961. If anyone earned the right to be called a citizen of the “New West,” it was Stewart Udall. And Wallace Stegner.
Stewart Udall served as Secretary for eight years (1961–1969) under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, during which time he successfully pressed for landmark environmental legislation, including the Clean Air Act, the Wilderness Act, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Under his watch, the National Park Service added over 2.4 million acres to its holdings, including four new national parks, six national seashores, and five national recreation areas. Udall was known at the time not only as one of the most effective spokesmen for the West, but also for his ability to manage controversy and gain bi–partisan support for the Department of the Interior.
Interview with Udall
You can read a transcript of an interview with Udall from September 24, 2003 (pdf), the first in a series of interviews with former Secretaries of the Interior organized by the Center of the American West.
A prolific writer, Udall’s most important book was the bestseller, The Quiet Crisis, published in 1963 with a forward by President Kennedy.