May 23, 1967. LBJ addresses delegates to the International Conference on Water for Peace: 

"I come from land where water is treasure. For a good many years, I have done my share of agitating to increase the water resources of my native State. I have known the frustrations of this task. A member of the Texas Legislature once recited some lines on this subject:

    ‘Oh the glamour and the clamor / That attend affairs of   state / Seem to fascinate the people / And impress some folks as great.

    ‘But the truth about the matter, / In the scale of loss and   gain: / Not one inauguration’s worth / A good, slow two-inch rain!’

As man faces the next century, one question stands above all others: How well—and how long—can the earth sustain its ever-growing population?

As much as anything, water holds the key to that simple question: water to drink; water to grow the food we must eat; water to sustain industrial growth.

Today, man is losing his race with the growing need that he has for water.”

Read the rest of the speech here

Photos: Top: LBJ delivering speech, image #C5443. Below: LBJ’s beloved Pedernales River, near the Ranch, in 1967 (#C5785-12), and then during the drought of 2011. Map shows the distance between the LBJ Ranch and the location of the photo. 2011 photo by Texas Parks and Wildlife

April 27, 1967. Lady Bird and Laurance Rockefeller look at an architectural model of the Washington Mall area during a Beautification Luncheon in the State Dining Room. The First lady believed that a national consensus on the need to care for the environment was both necessary and possible: 


“We have learned that we cannot protect and enhance the beauty of this Nation solely through federal action, or just through citizens groups, or simply through academic institutions. All of these are necessary, plus a strong national will.”



-Lady Bird Johnson and the Environment, Lewis Gould, University of Kansas Press, 1988, p, 203.

April 27, 1967. Lady Bird and Laurance Rockefeller look at an architectural model of the Washington Mall area during a Beautification Luncheon in the State Dining Room. The First lady believed that a national consensus on the need to care for the environment was both necessary and possible: 

“We have learned that we cannot protect and enhance the beauty of this Nation solely through federal action, or just through citizens groups, or simply through academic institutions. All of these are necessary, plus a strong national will.”

-Lady Bird Johnson and the Environment, Lewis Gould, University of Kansas Press, 1988, p, 203.

November 3, 1966. 1:06 PM. LBJ signs the Demonstration Cities Bill and the Clean Water Restoration Bill, saying: 




"Clean streets and clear rivers—could anything really be more basic to a Great Society? Could anything really be more vital to our children?

I have signed many bills in the 3 years that I have been President. I will sign perhaps a thousand this year. But none has given me greater pleasure than the ones that we are about to sign this afternoon. For they are proud additions to the legacy of a greater America.” 



Photo of Kingman Boys and Girls Club (opened 1968) on Kingman Place, NW, Washington D.C., by rockcreek via Flickr Creative Commons. Full text of signing statement here. 

November 3, 1966. 1:06 PM. LBJ signs the Demonstration Cities Bill and the Clean Water Restoration Bill, saying: 

"Clean streets and clear rivers—could anything really be more basic to a Great Society? Could anything really be more vital to our children?

I have signed many bills in the 3 years that I have been President. I will sign perhaps a thousand this year. But none has given me greater pleasure than the ones that we are about to sign this afternoon. For they are proud additions to the legacy of a greater America.” 

Photo of Kingman Boys and Girls Club (opened 1968) on Kingman Place, NW, Washington D.C., by rockcreek via Flickr Creative Commons. Full text of signing statement here

October 15, 1966. President Johnson signs seven conservation measures which establish Guadalupe Mountain National Park in Texas, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Montana, and Wolf Trap Farm Park in Virginia. In addition, this legislation also increased the land at Point Reyes National Seashore in California and included the endangered species preservation act and the historic preservation act. 
Pictures from the Guadalupe Mountain National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area are from the National Park Service. Photo from Wolf Trap Farm Park is from happy via on flickr. Photo from Point Reyes National Seashore is from ah zut on flickr.
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October 15, 1966. President Johnson signs seven conservation measures which establish Guadalupe Mountain National Park in Texas, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Montana, and Wolf Trap Farm Park in Virginia. In addition, this legislation also increased the land at Point Reyes National Seashore in California and included the endangered species preservation act and the historic preservation act. 
Pictures from the Guadalupe Mountain National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area are from the National Park Service. Photo from Wolf Trap Farm Park is from happy via on flickr. Photo from Point Reyes National Seashore is from ah zut on flickr.
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October 15, 1966. President Johnson signs seven conservation measures which establish Guadalupe Mountain National Park in Texas, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Montana, and Wolf Trap Farm Park in Virginia. In addition, this legislation also increased the land at Point Reyes National Seashore in California and included the endangered species preservation act and the historic preservation act. 
Pictures from the Guadalupe Mountain National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area are from the National Park Service. Photo from Wolf Trap Farm Park is from happy via on flickr. Photo from Point Reyes National Seashore is from ah zut on flickr.
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October 15, 1966. President Johnson signs seven conservation measures which establish Guadalupe Mountain National Park in Texas, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Montana, and Wolf Trap Farm Park in Virginia. In addition, this legislation also increased the land at Point Reyes National Seashore in California and included the endangered species preservation act and the historic preservation act.

Pictures from the Guadalupe Mountain National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area are from the National Park Service. Photo from Wolf Trap Farm Park is from happy via on flickr. Photo from Point Reyes National Seashore is from ah zut on flickr.

September 21, 1966. Lady Bird visits California and makes a speech in Monterey:


“I wanted not only to see the natural beauty of your country but also to salute the citizens and leaders in government who have taken action to preserve this natural heritage. Your coastline, which is your immediate pride and pleasure, is also the nation’s coastline, our common western edge. What you have done with it makes all your countrymen applaud. We have misused our resources, but we haven’t destroyed them. It is late. It is fortunately not too late, and I know that the people of Monterey Peninsula know that conservation, beautification, call it what you will, is more than just one tree, or one historic building, or one scenic highway. It is a frame of reference, a way of life.”


-Lady Bird Johnson, A White House Diary, New York: Dell Books, 1971, pages 465-466. Photo: Lady Bird at the Pacific Coast Highway. LBJ Presidential Library #C3188-27a.

September 21, 1966. Lady Bird visits California and makes a speech in Monterey:

“I wanted not only to see the natural beauty of your country but also to salute the citizens and leaders in government who have taken action to preserve this natural heritage. Your coastline, which is your immediate pride and pleasure, is also the nation’s coastline, our common western edge. What you have done with it makes all your countrymen applaud. We have misused our resources, but we haven’t destroyed them. It is late. It is fortunately not too late, and I know that the people of Monterey Peninsula know that conservation, beautification, call it what you will, is more than just one tree, or one historic building, or one scenic highway. It is a frame of reference, a way of life.”

-Lady Bird Johnson, A White House Diary, New York: Dell Books, 1971, pages 465-466. Photo: Lady Bird at the Pacific Coast Highway. LBJ Presidential Library #C3188-27a.

April 26, 1966. Lady Bird shows two young people some blooming white azaleas. She later wrote of this and other urban beautification efforts: 

"Green oases and neighborhood parks within cities offer a promise. If people in humdrum jobs, in drab buildings, surrounded by noise and confusion, know they can move out of all that into areas of serene beauty and quiet, even for a brief time each day, they can better cope with conditions that may bring them to the breaking point."

LBJ Library photograph C1754-25. Lady Bird Johnson quote from Lady Bird Johnson and Carlton B. Lees, Wildflowers Across America, New York: Abbevile Press, 1993, p. 264.

April 26, 1966. Lady Bird shows two young people some blooming white azaleas. She later wrote of this and other urban beautification efforts: 

"Green oases and neighborhood parks within cities offer a promise. If people in humdrum jobs, in drab buildings, surrounded by noise and confusion, know they can move out of all that into areas of serene beauty and quiet, even for a brief time each day, they can better cope with conditions that may bring them to the breaking point."

LBJ Library photograph C1754-25. Lady Bird Johnson quote from Lady Bird Johnson and Carlton B. Lees, Wildflowers Across America, New York: Abbevile Press, 1993, p. 264.

April 2, 1966. 

"At the end of the day we gathered on a mesa top, gay with red-checkered tablecloths and a campfire glowing. Everybody was in a merry mood. High spirits were contagious. We all swapped tales about our experiences of the day, while a magnificent drama was proceeding in the sky around us. Sundown and twilight—the unceasing play of lights and shadows and the nuances of colors in the sky and on the sides of the mountains. Sometimes I think the Lord made up in this Western country for what he didn’t give us in rainfall and in verdant vegetation with the glory of the the sky. It was the most superb theater, fit subject for a symphony or a poem—but for me just an hour of delight that was almost tangible—of the heightened feeling of being alive. "

Lady Bird Johnson, A White House Diary, New York: Dell Books, 1971, pg 416-7. Top photo: LBJ Library #C1616-9A, bottom photo via the National Park Service

December 14, 1965. The Outside Task Force on Urban Affairs and Housing, tasked by LBJ to investigate the causes of the riots in Watts, submits its report to the President. Their statement of “the urban problem”: 

“-the great dimensions of unmet housing needs: some 7 million urban families live in homes of such disrepair as to violate housing code standards of major cities.
-the growth of population: 2 million new units of housing are needed each year for the foreseeable future—an increase in the volume of production 25% greater than has ever been achieved before.
-the chronic inability of the country to provide low income housing of adequate quality at a reasonable price…
-the special problem of the poor and the Negro unable to move freely from racial ghettos and subject to heavy exploitation in the costs they pay for the  necessities of life: 3 our of 10 slum houses are now occupied by Negroes, and at high rent levels the proportion of Negro families living in substandard housing is six times greater than that of white families. 
-the inability of metropolitan areas to deal with the movement of people and goods, in particular the failure to provide adequate mass transportation for families who do not own an automobile or where use of private vehicles is unnecessary  uneconomical, or socially undesirable. 
-increasing pressures on municiple costs…
-unnecessary and unwarranted restrictions for the suburban American as well—expressed in uniformity in housing choices, excessive costs of community facilities and services, gross deficiencies in recreation and leisure time opportunities. 
—for all metropolitan residents, urban and suburban alike, unnecessary costs imposed by lengthy journeys to work, growing dangers from water and air pollution.”

Report, “Outside 1965 Task Force on Urban Affairs and Housing”, 12/14/1965, Task Force Reports, Box 3. LBJ Library. Map: Los Angeles Metro, today. 

December 14, 1965. The Outside Task Force on Urban Affairs and Housing, tasked by LBJ to investigate the causes of the riots in Watts, submits its report to the President. Their statement of “the urban problem”: 

-the great dimensions of unmet housing needs: some 7 million urban families live in homes of such disrepair as to violate housing code standards of major cities.

-the growth of population: 2 million new units of housing are needed each year for the foreseeable future—an increase in the volume of production 25% greater than has ever been achieved before.

-the chronic inability of the country to provide low income housing of adequate quality at a reasonable price

-the special problem of the poor and the Negro unable to move freely from racial ghettos and subject to heavy exploitation in the costs they pay for the  necessities of life: 3 our of 10 slum houses are now occupied by Negroes, and at high rent levels the proportion of Negro families living in substandard housing is six times greater than that of white families. 

-the inability of metropolitan areas to deal with the movement of people and goods, in particular the failure to provide adequate mass transportation for families who do not own an automobile or where use of private vehicles is unnecessary  uneconomical, or socially undesirable. 

-increasing pressures on municiple costs

-unnecessary and unwarranted restrictions for the suburban American as well—expressed in uniformity in housing choices, excessive costs of community facilities and services, gross deficiencies in recreation and leisure time opportunities. 

for all metropolitan residents, urban and suburban alike, unnecessary costs imposed by lengthy journeys to work, growing dangers from water and air pollution.”

Report, “Outside 1965 Task Force on Urban Affairs and Housing”, 12/14/1965, Task Force Reports, Box 3. LBJ Library. Map: Los Angeles Metro, today. 

"There is a part of America which was here long before we arrived,

and will be here, if we preserve it, long after we depart: the forests and the flowers, the open prairies and the slope of the hills, the tall mountains, the granite, the limestone, the caliche, the unmarked trails, the winding little streams-well, this is the America that no amount of science or skill can ever recreate or actually ever duplicate.

"This America is the source of America’s greatness. It is another part of America’s soul as well.

"When I was growing up, the land itself was life. And when the day seemed particularly harsh and bitter, the land was always there just as nature had left it—wild, rugged, beautiful, and changing, always changing.

"And really, how do you measure the excitement and the happiness that comes to a boy from the old swimming hole in the happy days of yore, when I used to lean above it; the old sycamore, the baiting of a hook that is tossed into the stream to catch a wily fish, or looking at a graceful deer that leaps with hardly a quiver over a rock fence that was put down by some settler a hundred years or more ago?

"How do you really put a value on the view of the night that is caught in a boy’s eyes while he is stretched out in the thick grass watching the million stars that we never see in these crowded cities, breathing the sounds of the night and the birds and the pure, fresh air while in his ears are the crickets and the wind ?

"Well, in recent years I think America has sadly neglected this part of America’s national heritage. We have placed a wall of civilization between us and between the beauty of our land and of our countryside. In our eagerness to expand and to improve, we have relegated nature to a weekend role, and we have banished it from our daily lives.

"Well, I think that we are a poorer Nation because of it, and it is something I am not proud of. And it is something I am going to do something about. Because as long as I am your President, by choice of your people, I do not choose to preside over the destiny of this country and to hide from view what God has gladly given it." 

--President Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Signing of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, October 22, 1965.

October 22, 1965. LBJ signs the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, and gives Lady Bird the first signing pen. The Act regulated billboards and junkyards along highways and set aside federal money for beautifying America’s roadsides. 

Lady Bird had lobbied hard for the bill’s passage, and she and the President’s legislative liaisons had encountered significant resistance from billboard-industry interests in Congress, especially in the House. Her involvement and that of her staff—especially Liz Carpenter—may have made the difference. Texas Congressman George Mahon said:

“No one in the Texas delegation likes the bill, but no one wants to vote against Lady Bird.”

—Lewis L. Gould, Lady Bird Johnson and the Environment, Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, pg 162. 
April 6, 1965. Lady Bird plants a cherry tree at the Cherry Blossom festival in the Washington D.C. Tidal Basin. 
The First Lady’s Committee for a More Beautiful Capital has been meeting for several months now, and their efforts have included plantings along the Mall, cleaning old statues, and improving the Watts Branch section of northeastern D.C. The people of Japan donated 3,800 cherry trees to the effort.  

April 6, 1965. Lady Bird plants a cherry tree at the Cherry Blossom festival in the Washington D.C. Tidal Basin. 

The First Lady’s Committee for a More Beautiful Capital has been meeting for several months now, and their efforts have included plantings along the Mall, cleaning old statues, and improving the Watts Branch section of northeastern D.C. The people of Japan donated 3,800 cherry trees to the effort.  

September 3, 1964. LBJ signs the Wilderness Act. He praises Congress: 

“If the 88th had not earned already so many honorable titles, such as the education Congress, the health Congress, the full prosperity Congress, it would be remembered as the conservation Congress, because in addition to the measures before me this morning, Congress has wisely this year passed the Ozark Rivers National Riverway bill, which I signed last week; the Fire Island National Seashore bill, which is awaiting action; the Canyonlands National Park legislation, which I expect to sign shortly, creating our first new national park on this continent in 17 years. 

"But Congress has done even more. Action has been taken to keep our air pure and our water safe and our food free from pesticides; to protect our wildlife; to conserve our precious water resources. No single Congress in my memory has done so much to keep America as a good and wholesome and beautiful place to live.” 

Clockwise from top left:  Canyonlands National Park, in 2008Ozark National Scenic Riverways, in 2010and Fire Island, in 2008. All photos via Flickr Creative Commons.