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A Vision for Roadsides of the 21st Century

Based on Aldo Leopold's land ethic and Lady Bird Johnson's attention to natural beauty, we now have the opportunity to define a vision for the future of roadsides. It is important to say that we have great pride in our many roadside managers and crews, who daily do the right thing as defined by law, budgets, and public opinion. We should build on their common sense in the 21st Century, as well as lessons learned from the past. Restoring and protecting each State's natural heritage, beauty, and utility will be the underlying goal.

Wherever I go in America, I like it when
the land speaks its own language in its
own regional accent.

Ladybird Johnson, 1993.

Mrs. Johnson understands the importance of each region's unique identity and its natural heritage. That natural heritage is different in each State and different in each region of that State. Natural heritage is the combination of all the elements in the environment around us, a community of plants, animals and people
living together.

That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics.
Aldo Leopold, 1948.

Thus, a renewed land ethic for roadside managers will be defined as care and respect for the natural environment within and adjacent to highway corridors. Those highway corridors will serve as buffers to environmental insults, transitions to natural and man-made environments, havens for endangered species and communities, refuges of biodiversity, and preserves of natural beauty. This roadside ethic will be a source of pride within the workforce and throughout neighboring communities.

This vision for the future draws further on the past. This vision yearns for a time when weekend drives are once again a source of recreation and reconnection with nature, a family affair/reunion where time slows down, we talk with one another, we stop at a rest area for a break or even a packed picnic lunch. More and more highway rest areas will offer walking trails and views of the surrounding countryside to reinforce the calm and peace that humans
continue to seek.

In the future, Leopold and Johnson's caring will be respected and reflected on America's roadsides, our opportunities for conservation.

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This page last modified on August 4, 2004

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