DECEMBER 9, 1960
LOS ANGELES—It was good to read about the cordial meeting held between President Eisenhower and President-elect Kennedy on the change-over of administrations. It emphasized again what a gentleman President Eisenhower is. He has all the virtues of the best military traditions.
It also was interesting to read President-elect Kennedy's reaction to a reporter's question about the outflow of gold and the value of the American dollar. He was careful to state that the responsibility for whatever is being done by the government is being carried out by President Eisenhower, and this will be so until Inauguration Day.
This is as it should be, for no responsibility should rest on anyone unless he has the power to act, and no incoming President has that power until the day of inauguration is over.
The appointment of Rep. Stewart L. Udall of Arizona to head the Department of the Interior reflects Mr. Kennedy's anxiety to obtain new ideas in the area of the development of Western resources. Significant in this connection was the President-elect's meeting with a delegation headed by Clyde D. Ellis, general manager of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association to discuss Western water resources development. In the group were James G. Patton, president of the National Farmers Union; Alex Radin, executive secretary of the American Public Power Association; Pat Greathouse of the AFL-CIO; and Ken Holum of the National Farmers Union organization in North and South Dakota.
Having just been in Utah, where there is grave concern over the water supply and where much is done through dry farming and irrigation, I was made very conscious of the needs for really radical steps in developing the water supply and resources in many of the Western states.
I cannot help but believe that we need a major reforestation effort in that area. It is the loss of trees that frequently turns areas of the country into deserts, and if we could begin now to make our people conscious of the need for planting trees we could probably save great regions from both floods and droughts.
We know a good deal more than we used to know about the ways to preserve water. And we are not as badly off as, for instance, Israel, which is struggling to find ways to use salt water in its irrigation system—after the salt has been removed. It takes time for forests to grow and the sooner we realize our needs the better it will be for our future.
The Soviets are beginning to think in terms of planning 20 years ahead, instead of five years. It is time that we thought in the same terms. And I think also we should begin to train our children in the importance of conserving forests, both in the interest of our water supply and in the interests of our lumber supply.
I remember well visiting the wonderful beech forests outside of Zurich, Switzerland. Some of the cities in the area derive their main revenue from their outlying timberlands and do not impose any taxes on their residents until the revenues from the forests prove inadequate to meet the needs of the cities. These forests have been harvested and cared for for many years.
And besides being a source of revenue they have been a source of great enjoyment to the people—for picnicking and for learning the values of conservation. And again I say it would be well for us to begin to train our children so that they will grow up to understand the value of their natural surroundings and become conservationists instead of destructive forces for the future.