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Wanted: Environmental Leaders

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The HCN profile of Stewart and Mo Udall is an excellent account of their heroic achievements to protect and to save the resources of the West (HCN, 10/11/04: The First Family of Western Conservation). Perhaps Mark and Tom Udall, with the genes and the same determination, will continue the legacy of the fathers. But, as with the fathers, they will require help.

Our parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other public lands are under assault. There is a concerted effort by the Department of Interior to privatize the management of these treasures.

How many people are aware the National Bison Range in Montana is now being threatened by an agreement which would turn over management and funds to a private entity (the Salish and Kootenai tribes)? The agreement exceeds any authority that resides within the office of the secretary of the Interior. But Secretary Norton has arbitrarily identified more than 30 refuges and 30 parks in the West, including all refuges and all parks in Alaska except Denali National Park, as potential candidates for such funding agreements.

Yes, the West is a different place than it was two decades ago. And yes, there are more people and more challenges. But it doesn’t mean we should stand by and allow all the gains made by Mo and Stewart Udall and their supporters to be lost. Let’s leave the West and its treasures of wildlands, wildlife and wild beauty as we know it, as a legacy for future generations.

Don Redfearn Tucson, Arizona

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