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Earth Day Recognition for Arizona Conservation Giants

April 22, 2009

Phoenix, AZ – Earth Day 2009 is an opportunity to reflect on the strong conservation leadership Arizona has provided to the nation. That leadership is noteworthy in part because it has transcended politics, according to Doug Scott, policy director of the Campaign for America's Wilderness.

"Mo Udall during his time in Congress; his brother Stewart before him, and as Secretary of the Interior; they worked closely with Barry Goldwater and John McCain on a series of bills that protected some of the favorite wilderness areas of the people of Arizona."

Scott says Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva and others from the state's current delegation join a very distinguished list of Arizonans who have contributed to conservation progress in the state and nation. Grijalva was instrumental in last month's passage of a huge public lands package that extended additional protection to five Arizona national monuments and several other designated areas of public lands.

Scott, an organizer of the first Earth Day in 1970, says that observance almost 40 years ago came at a time when environmental issues moved to the top of America's political agenda, and was quickly followed by major legislation.

"Congress passed and President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The Environmental Protection Agency was organized."

Scott says future support for conservation in America will remain strong because the issues arise from the grassroots.

"Protection is needed for places like Fossil Creek in Arizona and proposals for places like the Tumacacori Highlands Wilderness. These things arise because they have very broad-based local support. That is what gives them essentially unstoppable political momentum."

Scott notes that going back to the time of President Teddy Roosevelt, conservation issues have attracted bi-partisan political support both in Arizona and across the nation.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ