“Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints” is a motto we should all take to heart in Colorado. Our gorgeous scenery and real estate should not be spoiled by litter and trash. I’ve become a bit of a fanatic about the “leave only what you find” philosophy when hiking, biking and even motoring though the scenery around my home mountain-town of Evergreen, Colorado.
We are all in such a hurry these days. We don’t always see the junk people have left behind.
This year, my husband and I ended up sitting at a standstill along I-70 as we were texting family that we would be late for a birthday party near Evergreen. We never made it. Within minutes, the highway was closed and, for a while, we had nothing to do but observe our surroundings. I was shocked to see food, food wrappers, trash, diapers, plastic bags, CDs, clothing, and garbage of all sorts piled up along east-bound I-70– known as Mount Vernon Canyon. “Lady Bird Johnson would roll over in her Texas grave if she could see this mess,” my husband commented.
Environmentalist Lady Bird Johnson
In 1963, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Lady Bird Johnson, moved into the White House just days after the assassination of a beloved president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. While shocked citizens grieved and the country slowed to a near stop, President Johnson was consumed with helping the country heal as he tried to fulfill the many promises made by JFK.
Mrs. Johnson, born Claudia Alta Taylor, was a business woman with a high-pitched slow, southern drawl. She was political, kind, convincing, determined, gathering people in her arms at every event. They were both strident supporters of conservation and the environment.
In early 1965, Lady Bird pressed donors and philanthropists to donate toward the clean-up and beautification of Washington, DC. The capital city was decaying from within. “The District had long been crumbling,” a pbs.org article declared, “as poverty and racial tensions ate away at its neighborhoods.” The Society for a More Beautiful National Capital planted flower beds, installed water fountains, planted trees and grasses along avenues and public parcels that had been ignored for years. With success under her belt, she chose to expand her success in Washington, DC to a national cause of Highway Beautification.
Trash and Litter Has A History in America
Our highway system was in its infancy in 1965. In post-war Germany, Dwight D. Eisenhower had seen the benefits of a national highway system for troop deployment, defense, evacuation, as well as “speedy, safe transcontinental traffic.” President Eisenhower’s progressive vision and effective funding created the Interstate Highway System which passed in 1956, and changed all our lives.
Billboard companies were fighting over prime spots on the highway. As Americans crisscrossed the country in their new Chevys and Fords, they tossed their trash out the window. They had for decades, but it was now piling up. The trash turned vacant land and adjacent properties with natural vegetation into a slowly degrading, ugly environment.
Let’s Clean up Evergreen and Colorado
“Ugliness is so grim,” Lady Bird once said. “A little beauty, something that is lovely, I think, can help create harmony…” President Johnson supported Lady Bird’s cause and demanded that congress pass the Highway Beautification Act of 1965. Lady Bird asked junior high students, neighborhoods, local landscapers, and residents to plant wild flowers, bushes, and trees along the roads. As her ideas bloomed across the country, so did her wild flowers. If you see a field of bluebonnets in Texas, or paintbrushes in Colorado, you are witness the efforts of 1960s and ‘70s ‘environmentalists’ who were just regular people working to leave a place better than they found it.
Next time your family travels through our precious Colorado landscape in Evergreen or anywhere in Colorado, enjoy the results of others. They have practiced the philosophy of leaving things better than they found them. Instead of trash, toss a handful of wildflower seeds out your car’s window. Be a part of the re-beautification of our great nation. I can make it easy for you. I give away wildflower seed to my Evergreen real estate clients. And, now I will be happy to give some to you.
Free Wildflower Seeds
Just use this form to request free wildflower seeds and I will mail them to you. Just include your mailing address. I want to help you take care of Colorado by scattering some seeds of joy!