This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech exists in the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers at the John F. Kennedy Library. Page images of the draft can be found here.
No group of Americans who should have been less surprised by our U-2 flights than the people of Colorado. For no section of this country owes more to the daring of American espionage efforts, than the State of Colorado. In 1806 an American adventurer headed for the unmapped regions of the Rocky Mountains, carrying secret instructions. He was to have himself arrested by the Spanish and taken to Santa Fe so that he could observe Spanish activities there, and perhaps discover the source of Spanish gold. His mission, perhaps our first espionage penetration into foreign land, was successful; although this particular mission was carried out without the knowledge of President Thomas Jefferson, setting still another precedent for today. History does not record what he found in Santa Fe. But history does record that on his way to the Southwest he incidentally managed to discover the Front Range of the Rockies, open Colorado up to exploration, and get a mountain named after him. His name was Zebulon Pike; and the mountain he tried to climb - Pike's Peak.
Today our secret agents go over mountains - not up them. They try to avoid capture - not seek it. They look for missiles - not for gold. But one thing is still the same. For Mr. Pike, and his successor explorers, described the country through which they passed in such dismal and forbidding terms that all plans to develop the land were halted. And today's Administration - like those of the early 1800s - also has so little faith in the future of the West that it, too, has virtually abandoned its development.
For eight long, arid years - as America's needs have grown, as new and urgent problems of resource conservation have arisen - this Republican Administration has failed continuously and dismally to protect our great abundance of natural wealth. In eight years - eight years of change and growth - this Republican Administration has failed to propose one new program, a single new effort, one fresh plan for the development of our natural resources. In eight years the combined talents of the entire administration have been unable to come up with one creative step forward - or given one sign of an awareness that today's new problems require new solutions and a fresh approach. Instead of directing the energies of government to the formulation of progressive policies - this Administration has devoted all its skill to blocking every Democratic effort to move ahead in resource development. Frequently - as in the case of the water pollution bill - Democratic programs have been met with destructive veto. And - when a veto was not thought to be politically appropriate - Democratic proposals have been looked on as a challenge to the Administration's ability to force a compromise which would cut the heart out of our programs - which would retain the form and not the substance. And, unfortunately, the Republicans have often met this challenge.
Wherever we look - from forest, to mountain, to river, to the very air we breathe we can see America's priceless heritage of natural wealth being dissipated by Republican despoilment under-development and neglect.
The development of our vital water resources - water to reclaim the land, to supply the power for cities and industry, to provide opportunity for recreation and pleasure, and to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding population - has been stifled and retarded by a resource budget which provides only a small fraction of the minimum sums recommended by the Administration's own Department of Commerce. As a result many parts of the country already feel a water shortage - and, unless these policies are soon reversed - these shortages will spread across the nation.
Our rich and vast national forests - the principal source of our timber, our hydroelectric power and our water - have been rapidly deteriorating under a forestry program which is less than half the effort recommended by the Secretary of Agriculture. Unless we increase today's investment in our forests, a future America will suffer enormous losses in wasted timber, barren forest land, and dwindling water supplies.
Democratic efforts to control the wasteful and destructive pollution of our waterways was met with a crushing and reckless veto - a veto which all but destroyed the hope of providing a clean and healthy water supply for all our people. Here in Colorado past federal programs had doubled the amount of badly needed pollution control construction. But this Administration, instead of stimulating your efforts, has tried to destroy them.
Vast stretches of arid lands are today going unreclaimed - even though we will need 3½ million more acres by 1980 if we are to meet our growing need for food.
The enormous power needs of our growing cities and expanding industry have been sadly neglected by an Administration which has failed to initiate a single, multi-purpose, basin-wide development project since it has been in office - which has failed to heed Teddy Roosevelt's admonition that a "river is a unit from its source to the sea" - and which was only persuaded to drop its backward-looking policy of "no new starts" by the approach of an election year.
Our mineral resources are going untapped - their potential for the future unexplored - even though our need for minerals is growing by leaps and bounds.
Our priceless stock of natural beauty is being eroded - our wildlife going unprotected - our fish stocks destroyed - even though by 1970 more than forty million American families will be on the road searching for new opportunities for recreation, for pleasure, and for relief from urban living.
These failures - and many like them - are not failures to solve just Western problems - they are not the concern of the Western States alone. For, as Theodore Roosevelt said, "The conservation of our natural resources and their proper use constitute the fundamental problem which underlies almost every other problem of our national life. We must maintain for our civilization the adequate material base without which that civilization cannot exist." And today the development of our natural resources is vital not only to the survival of the American West - not only to American survival - but it is essential to the survival of the entire free world. And that survival is being imperiled by short-sighted resource policies which are impairing our national wealth and our national strength.
This Republican refusal to develop our natural resources - to provide the "material base" for tomorrow's America - has been justified in the name of economy. Our future wealth has been sacrificed to today's balanced budget. Our future needs have been neglected in order to satisfy a few short-sighted men in the Treasury. But the harsh fact of the matter is that this Administration's resource policies have been the most wasteful, extravagant, spendthrift programs of any Administration since the great giveaways which followed the Civil War. We have recklessly dissipated the resources on which our strength depends. We have thrown away - heedless of our growing needs - opportunity after opportunity to ensure that future generations of America will have the water, the power, the timber and the fertile land on which their prosperity will depend. We have failed to invest in America's future - and a future America will have to pay the high cost of our failures.
In 1961 we must reverse the policies of an Administration which has lost the faith in America's future which brought Zebulon Pike to the Rockies and enabled American pioneers to subdue a continent. We must remedy the failures of an Administration which has ignored the greatness of a West which is, as Archibald MacLeish has said, not merely a storehouse of material abundance - but "a country in the mind" - which represents a spirit of daring and vision and belief that America's true greatness still lies before us.
We must of course, rebuild the resource programs which are the proud heritage of the New Deal, and which have been neglected and ignored during the past eight years - forestry programs, power programs, reclamation programs, river-basin development and all the rest. In this way we can begin to repair the damage which has already been done and start to restore our resource.
But we need more than a return to old policies and programs - important as those policies may be. We need a whole new concept of resource development. For the days when our natural wealth was so plentiful that a little effort brought great rewards, those days have passed. Nor can we any longer look upon each resource need as a separate and individual item - requiring separate planning and separate administration. Today's resource needs are closely interrelated - the development of our water supplies affects the irrigation of our land and even our stocks of fish. Forest development influences power development, and our power development can only be carried out with a careful eye to the need for flood protection. And, as our needs mount and our population grows, it will become increasingly essential that we consider all our resources in light of their relationship to each other - as well as to the economy as a whole.
That is why I support Democratic efforts to establish a Council of Resource and Conservation Advisers in the office of the President - a council which will engage in overall resource planning - which will assess our national needs - and recommend national programs to meet them. With such a Council - working in cooperation with a Joint Congressional Committee - we can have a continuous appraisal of our resource needs, and up-to-date inventory of our resource potential - and a resource development program which can be shaped to fit all the needs of a growing economy and an expanding population.
At the same time we must modernize the Administration of our resource development by bringing together programs which are now often scattered through dozens of different departments. And we must also revamp our system of financing new resource projects. Today the entire expense of the construction of new dams or new reclamation projects is taken out of today's budget - distorting the cost of projects which will be returning revenues to the government for many decades. Every business in the country spreads the cost of its long-term development programs over the years when these programs will be in fruitful use. We must put the financing of America's resource development on a businesslike basis - a basis which will reflect its true value; its real cost - and make clear the nature of our investment in America's future.
It was Theodore Roosevelt who said that "To waste, to destroy, our natural resources.... will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed." That distinguished Republican President possessed a vision and an understanding which his successors have lost. For today's Republicans have neglected and undermined the natural heritage, the hope for prosperity, of our children. Only under a new Democratic Administration - an Administration which will apply creative and dynamic principles of planning and financing to old problems and historic programs - can we begin to amplify and develop the abundance we have been so freely given. Only under a Democratic Administration will we realize the prophecy of Stephen Douglas who, a hundred years ago, said of the "Great West" and its wealth - "There, is the hope of this nation."