Media Contact: Office of the Secretary
For Immediate Release: February 1, 1962

New programs instituted by the Department of the Interior during 1961 to stem inroads on vital natural resources by this Nation's explosive growth were outlined today in the Department's annual report entitled "Resources for Tomorrow."

"Because so much of what is happening inside America today is drowned out by the clamor of an embattled world, “Secretary Stewart t. Udall writes in the report, is only recently that we have become aware of a growing internal crisis which deeply affects the lives of all Americans."

The Secretary lists the elements or this "Quiet Crisis" as polluted rivers and lakes, disappearing open space, overcrowded parks, declining mineral resources, threatened extinction of certain species or our wildlife, and "dwindling opportunities for the outdoor experiences which through the years have had profound influence in shaping the national character of America.”

“If our growth in the years ahead is to leave America a better, rather than a poorer, place in which to live," he says, "we must give far more attention to our uses of land and water, forests, fish and wildlife, parks and wilderness, minerals and fuels, and we must embark, while time allows, on an active preservation of the remaining open spaces which surround our populated areas.”

He pointed out that more than a million acres of cropland each year is being taken from “open space” into industrial and commercial developments, highways, and other uses at a time when our population by three million annually. Recognition of this fact was dramatically demonstrated by the creation of a new National Seashore Park on Cape Cod, he said.

"Through this action, “he said, "one of' the most beautiful of America’s remaining unspoiled open spaces will be preserved for all time for the use and enjoyment of this and the generations to come."

The Secretary listed these other highlights of conservation progress through the Department's programs in 1961:

Land and Recreation: The Departments national park service increased its efforts to preserve such outstanding and spectacular areas as Padre Island, Texas; Point Reyes, California, Oregon Dunes, Oregon; and pictured rocks and sleeping bear Dunes in Michigan.

While continued progress was made in the improvement and development of the Nation’s park facilities under the 10 year mission 66 program, the department began work—in cooperation with the National Conference on State Parks, the American Institute of Park Executives, and other groups and organizations—on the organization of a new program known as parks for America.

Parks for America represents a concerted national effort to seek authority money to bid successfully in the competitive land market while suitable parklands are still available, and to defend existing parks against the threatened encroachment of commercial development.

To provide still further recreational resources, the Department during the year inaugurated an intensive program for expanded recreational use of public lands. In the past, a stumbling block in the progress of State and local programs was their inability to finance expensive land acquisition. To remedy this, the Department introduced a new pricing schedule for the sale to state and local governments of public lands expressly for outdoor recreation. Such tracts and areas can now be purchased from the Department’s Bureau of Land management for $2.50 an acre.

Fish and Wildlife: America’s wildlife is facing its own subtle challenge. Large number of species can be maintained only if there are large areas of the habitat they require. For example, wetlands are a vital requirement of many forms of wildlife. Great flights of waterfowl are just some of the creatures which need these areas. A wetland inventory published during the year by the Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service listed 38 game and furbearing species reported by the various States as making use of one or more of the 20 types of wetlands.

Yet drainage and destruction over the years has taken a heavy and over-growing toll.

To meet this problem, the congress in one of its major conservation actions 1961 approved a departmental proposal that it be allowed to “borrow” funds against future duck stamp to speed up wetlands purchase.

With a seven-year advance of $105 million under this program, the Department of the Interior will make a major contribution to the preservation or wildlife as a recreational resource for tomorrow.

Simultaneously, the Department ordered an expanded research program-­utilizing twice the funds previously available--to solve the problem of fish passage at high dams in the Pacific Northwest, and greatly increased its oceanographic research programs.

Meeting our water problems: Today in the United States we are using more than 300 billion gallons of water a day. By 1980, we will need 600 billion gallons a day. Finding means to provide this enormous additional supply will be one of our most critical problems in the years ahead.

Acting on proposals introduced by the Department and the Kennedy Administration, the first session of the 87th congress approved a multipronged attack on this problem of growing national concern.

On major conservation action in this field was the authorization of an $SO million investment in 1962 for pollution control programs.

An equally important water conservation action came with the authorization of a. $75 million program which will permit the Department to greatly accelerate work toward development of' the best and most economical processes for inverting saline and brackish water into water suitable for beneficial consumptive purposes.

An example of the progress now being made in this Vital area may be seen in the fact that in June 1961 President Kennedy pressed a button at this desk in the White House which set the machinery in motion--across the Nation at Freeport, Texas--of the first saline water demonstration plant constructed by the Federal Government cooperation with private industry--a million.. gallon-a-day plant that is already in the Freeport municipal water system.

Within months, dedication ceremonies were held marking completion of construction of a 250,000-gallon ... a-day plant to demineralize the brackish well water at Webster, South Dakota, and construction was nearing completion on a second million-gallon-a-day sea water conversion plant at San Diego, California.. Building of two additional plants in New Mexico and North Carolina is scheduled to begin in 1962.

Perhaps the greatest emphasis to Administration efforts to meet the water challenge came in mid-July When President Kennedy delivered to the Congress his proposed "Water Resources Planning Act of 1961", the most far-reaching water policy legislation sent to the Congress by the White House in many years.

Having an important bearing upon all water and related land conservation and development activities, the proposed act pending in the current session of congress would establish a cabinet level water resources council to form the comprehensive structure for water resource planning with the river basins.

Electric Power: Early in the year, the President directed the Secretary of the Interior to develop Plans for the early interconnection of areas served by the Department's hydroelectric power marketing agencies with adequate common carrier transmission lines; to plan for further national cooperative pooling of electric power, both public and private; and to enlarge such pooling as now exists.

A first significant step toward achievement of these aims came during the year when the Department's Bonneville Power Administration, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and nine private and public owners of hydroelectric generating facilities signed a coordination agreement designed to produce maximum power at existing power plants on Pacific Northwest rivers.

The agreement provides that storage and generating facilities on Pacific Northwest rivers shall be operated in much the same manner as if all were under one ownership.

It also provides for interchanges of energy and power among the signers in order to conserve water in reservoirs, and for coordination of the transmission facilities of the parties to the agreement.

Informal coordination in varying degrees prior to the signing of the agreement had resulted in approximately one million additional kilowatts. A substantial added number of firm kilowatts is expected to result from the agreement.

A further step toward conservation and better utilization of electric power resources was taken with the beginning of studies looking toward the so-called "pump-back” storage systems which permit the use of generation capacity during slack demand periods to build power reservoirs which can be pumped back into use at peak periods of power demand.

Our Forest Resources: Of all our efforts to conserve vital natural resources for tomorrow’s needs, our forest lands present the sharpest challenge to our foresight. This can be realized more clearly when we consider that the trees we plant today will not reach the minimum sizes needed for lumber until the year 2000. Yet, somehow, we must be prepared to meet a projected doubling of our current plumber consumption within 40 years.

Early in 1961, President Kennedy called upon secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior to coordinate programs and policies of their agencies for improved management of Federal forest lands looking toward greater productivity without diminishing the basic resource.

To help achieve this aim, the Departments of Interior and Agriculture have .undertaken an intensive joint study of existing timber sale and management.

Among recommendations adopted were orders to standardize inventory procedures, and to reconcile differences in determining allowable timber cut.

Mineral and Fuel Resources: One of the most important and dramatic conservation developments of the year came with the launching by the Department of its new helium conservation program.

The program, oil making many months of study and careful planning, is a cooperative undertaking by Government and industry through which privately built and operated plants will capture helium from certain natural gases destined for fuel markets.

Underlying the urgent need for this conservation effort is the fact that the equivalent of a year's supply of helium now is lost every 45 days. If such waste were permitted to continue, the Nation's limited helium reserves could not be relied upon to supply anticipated national requirements beyond 1985.

The new program provides for recovering and storing for future use 52 billion cubic feet of helium which otherwise would be wasted when natural gases containing this valuable element are burned for fuel.

In another important conservation action related to minerals and fuels, the Office of Coal Research was established within the Department to permit accelerated research efforts designed to find new and broader uses for that important fuel.

Improved management of public Domain lands: For 175 years, the public domain has furnished lands and natural resources to help meet the needs of a growing Nation.

Immediately after taking office in 1961, the Secretary of the Interior was fronted with an overwhelming backlog on incomplete applications for public lands, many of them filed three and four years previously. As a result, the Secretary ordered an 18-month moratorium on most types of non-mineral applications and petitions for land of the public domain.

The moratorium allows time for three critical activities by the Department: First: to eliminate the backlog applications.

Second: to conduct a comprehensive inventory, evaluation and classification of public lands, and,

Third: to review and revise regulations of the Department, and to initiate legislative proposals necessary to modernize and streamline the Nation's land laws. · In conclusion, Secretary Udall says in the annual report: "These, then, are a few examples of how the Department of the Interior is moving as speedily as possible to develop our natural resources for tomorrow. There are many others. For instance, new trails are being blazed for the American Indian through implementation of a Kennedy Administration force report calling for greater emphasis on Indian education and the wider use and development of natural resources on the reservations.

“Accelerated programs have been launched through the Department’s Office of Territories which are designed to improve political, social, and economic conditions in the territories for which it has responsibility, particularly in American Samoa.

In Reclamation, work is under way to schedule a progressive, orderly program of starting new projects to meet accumulated demands.

''The Department--at this challenging period in its existence--recognizes that the demands of a growing industrial society at home, as well as the Nation's commitments to defend freedom abroad; presents it with the most serious resource demands.

''Whether our physical and spiritual resources prove adequate to meet our needs tomorrow will be determined by the decisions we make--or fail to make—today.

"This is the moment of decision in resource conservation.

“Our actions toward this goal during the challenging 1960 's will determine the character--and the achievements--of this Nation for many years to come.”