Thank you Terry and thank each of you for joining us to inaugurate the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution.
We are honored by the presence of some of Mo's family including Anne Udall, Norma Udall; Mark and Burr; and I want to join Terry in welcoming our former mayors, federal judges and other elected officials and community leaders.
My deep appreciation to the Board of Trustees; as well as to Chris Helms and the staff of the Udall Foundation who do such an outstanding job and who will make the U.S. Institute the premier environmental conflict resolution center in the world.
Many thanks to Congressman Jim Kolbe and Ed Pastor who moved the enacting legislation through in the House, and again to Jim Kolbe who secured the appropriations that will allow the institute to function. We thank you very much.
There are so many people who deserve our thanks. But, there is one special person, above all, to whom we owe the most profound debt of gratitude. We thank him for giving us an example of all that is good and decent in public service and for his lifelong dedication to responsible environmental stewardship. We revere him for his vision--his unyielding sense of fairness and cherish him for his unfailing grace and sense of humor. And, we seek to honor him by placing this Institute under the direction of the Foundation that bears his name. That person is of course, Morris K. Udall.
Mo's example of stewardship, fairness, and good will are the pillars of this institute, and must be its enduring ethic.
The creation of this institute could not be more timely. We live in complicated times, and face a growing number of complex environmental challenges. As surely as the country's population grows and the edges of urbanization expand, pressure on the environment will increase.
Too often solutions elude us because the issues are mired in governmental bureaucracy or consigned to the courts where common-sense outcomes are lost in a Byzantine legal system and the only certainty is that large sums of money will be squandered on lawyers. If Mo were here, no doubt he would have a perfectly timed lawyer joke ready to fly.
Whether we are talking about how to manage a dam while protecting downstream resources; how to protect a species consistent with private property rights; or how to reconcile multiple-uses of public lands, many disputes can be resolved more quickly, amicably and effectively through direct negotiation among affected parties rather than by judicial decree, congressional caprice or bureaucratic fiat.
Maintaining a clean and healthy environment; protecting our great natural treasures; and assuring the sustainable, multiple use of the resources with which we are blessed is our national obligation--not only to secure for present day Americans a better economy and higher quality of life, but to secure for future generations the American natural heritage that is their birthright.
Mo Udall understood the importance of responsible stewardship, consensus building and problem solving. He knew that the path to progress is to give people an opportunity to be problem solvers rather than litigants. This Institute is charged with carrying on that treasured legacy.
How appropriate that Arizona and specifically Tucson is the home for this national resource. Not only because of Mo's heritage here but because of this community's special appreciation for our great natural blessings and stewardship responsibilities. This is the beginning of a great partnership that will benefit our beautiful state, this outstanding city and our great nation for many, many years to come.
To those who will direct and staff the institute, may you fulfill your awesome responsibly as Mo fulfilled his--guided by the principles of fairness, decency, respect and an unflinching commitment to making America a better place.
God bless you Mo Udall, and thank you all.