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Founder Remembered as WV Celebrates Earth Day's 40th

April 22, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia celebrates Earth Day today, and supporters say one great way to to do that is to get out into the woods. The observance was founded by the late Gaylord Nelson when he was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. Forty years ago, Nelson conceived of Earth Day as a "national teach-in on the environment."

His daughter, Tia Nelson, says a lot has been accomplished since then, after passage of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act.

"If you were born after 1970 or 1980, you have an expectation for clean water and clean air that was not a given prior to the first Earth Day."

Protection of public lands is also a theme of Earth Day. Nelson says her father recognized the value of those lands in a business sense.

"Papa had an expression, a quote he often used: 'The economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around.'"

Nelson says her father wanted the environment to take a place in the political spotlight.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV