The LBJs—Lyndon Baines and Lady Bird

Text excerpted from the book: PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change (ISBN: 978-1-63388-225-6)

by

Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger

http://www.buddtitlow.com

Now we are going to examine the primary role played by US Presidents in defining the burgeoning US Environmental Movement of the 1960’s. Many conservationists feared that John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s (JFK) assassination would mark another sharp decline in environmental leadership at the federal level.  But much to the relief of everyone invested in keeping the renewed vigor flowing, JFK’s successor—Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ)—kept most of the balls rolling in the right directions.  

President Lyndon Johnson (R) sitting on proch swing w. wife Claudia (Ladybird) on morning following his landslide election win.

The environmental highlight of LBJ’s administration came in May 1965 when the White House opened its doors to the first “Conference on Natural Beauty”.  Through this meeting, Johnson kept the environmental movement in the forefront of public opinion by articulating that, “We must not only protect the countryside and save it from destruction, we must restore what has been destroyed and salvage the beauty and charm of our cities.  Our conservation must be not just the classic conservation of protection and development, but a creative conservation of restoration and innovation.  Its concern is not but with nature alone, but with the total relation with man and the world around him.”

Not to be outdone was the “other LBJ” that was occupying the White House at this time. Lady Bird Johnson is still considered one of the most important women in history of the US Environmental Movement.  The Highway Beautification Act of 1965 was the result of Lady Bird’s national campaign for beautification of the newly constructed interstate highway system.    In 1969, Mrs. Johnson became a member of the National Park Service’s Advisory Board on National Parks, Historic Sites, Buildings and Monuments and served on the council for many years.  She also founded the Texas Highway Beautification Awards and was a trustee of the American Conservation Association.

Lady Bird Johnson’s beliefs regarding the importance of national beautification can be summarized in her statement that “where flowers bloom, so does hope.”

On her 70th birthday in 1982, Mrs. Johnson founded the National Wildflower Research Center (NWRC)—a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the preservation and re-establishment of native plants in natural and planned landscapes—located in Austin, Texas.  In December 1997, the NWRC was renamed the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in honor of her 85th birthday.  In 1999, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt presented Mrs. Johnson with the Native Plant Conservation Initiative Lifetime Achievement Award.  At that time he said, “Mrs. Johnson has been a shadow Secretary of the Interior for much of her life.”


Author’s bio:For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.

Author: Budd Titlow

BS, Biology-Chemistry, Florida State University, 1970 MS, Wildlife Ecology-Fisheries Science, Virginia Tech, 1973 btitlow@aol.com / www.agpix.com/titlow / www.buddtitlow.com For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place within nature’s beauty, before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. Protecting the Planet, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental champions among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — Coming Full Circle — provides the answers we all seek and need. Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.

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