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photo of Cecil AndrusCecil Andrus

The big issue in Idaho's gubernatorial election of 1970 was whether the ASARCO mining company would develop a molybdenum mine or not in the White Cloud mountains of central Idaho. The incumbent, Republican Don Samuelson, supported the mine and said, "The good Lord never intended us to lock up our resources." But Democrat Cecil Andrus opposed it and won the election. Later, when Jimmy Carter became president in 1976, he asked Andrus to come to Washington as Secretary of the Interior. Andrus returned to Idaho in 1981 and was elected governor again in 1986.

My position on the White Clouds came from common sense. It made no sense to destroy a beautiful area that was still pristine--just the way God created it--for a mineral that was in surplus worldwide. It wasn't needed. The price was so low it wasn't even an economically viable project in its own right. To destroy that area for no reason at all, or perhaps for the economic gain of one company, was ridiculous...

I take it as a compliment to be known as the first environmentalist governor of a state. I think it's true. I ran as a concerned citizen in 1970. That was the first gubernatorial campaign in America that revolved around protecting portions of the world in which we live. Since then...[this] has become a little more popular. It's an educational process now.

There is a critical balance that we have to reach for in the tug between jobs, development, and preserving. We don't always achieve it, but we have to reach for it. The first thing is to make a living if you are to sustain your family, educate your children, clothe them, and do the responsible things. But equally, you have to have a living that's worthwhile. Every once in a while you've got to be able to get away, take your favorite fly rod or your rifle and go to the outdoors to relax and enjoy life. We put a value on that...

People see the word "environmentalist" in different ways. I think we're all conservationists. We want to protect and preserve some portions of Idaho. In other areas we want to develop them, but we don't want to destroy them. I think the conservation community is 99 percent of the people who live in this state. Whether you're a farmer, rancher, industrialist, or whoever, even if you don't use certain areas on a regular basis, you want to know they are there for us and our children.

I think most Idahoans at times feel small or insignificant when they're out in the backcountry. They're concerned about beauty, they're concerned about having it available. There is nothing more peaceful than sitting in the warm sunshine and watching the river go by...

Andrus | Baker | Hayashida | Hill | Laird | Nelson | Oliver
Simplot | Slickpoo | Sorrels | Trice | Zabala

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