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RECYCLING REFLECTIONS - Environment loses a friend

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:54 PM

Last month those of us that care about the environment lost a true friend. The former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson died at the age of 94.

When you talk about "Green" at least in the '60s, you might think about hippy-type protesters chanting about the polluted air and water. But right there in the environment fight, and in it for the long hall, was Mrs. Johnson.

She talked about another type of pollution. The ugly eye and mind pollution that billboards and pavement were creating. The "cluttering" of the American landscape.

Because of her efforts and the attention that was in the media, further expansion of billboards was banned. Natural areas along our roadways were promoted, with a special emphasis on wild flowers and native plants. She had a vision of green not just miles and miles of asphalt that looked the same from coast to coast, but instead a natural vision of flowers and fauna. She made sure her native state of Texas was not left out. Roadsides were replanted not with cinders, but wild flowers.

She learned her love of the land as a young girl exploring the rural Texas landscape. She liked to fish, swim and hike and was said to have cried when a summer storm took down her favorite tree.

As a First Lady she found sponsors to help plant bushes, flowers, and trees in the public spaces around Washington D.C. As part of her efforts for conservation of natural resources, she helped pass the 1964 Highway Beautification Act, which banned billboard expansion.

In 1977 she was given the Presidential Metal of Freedom by then President Gerald Ford for "transforming the American Landscape and preserving its beauty."

She founded a wild flower research center and continued to champion preservation and natural areas until her death. Next time you see a patch of wild flowers along side the road, I hope you remember the lady that was a life time champion of "green."

Pam Hansberger is the assistant coordinator for the Huron County Solid Waste Management District. Her column runs every other week. For more information on local recycling and waste reduction programs, call (419) 663-8059.

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