This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. A copy of the text of this speech exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy Library.
The single, critical, overriding need of the people of Randolph County – and the people of all of West Virginia – is the development of new industry – industry which will bring you new jobs and increased income. And one of the brightest hopes of meeting this need is the use of your priceless heritage of natural beauty to attract tourists from all over the nation.
You have the resources – the streams and woods and lakes – necessary to develop a tourist industry. Elkins – the “vacation capital of the Appalachians” – is itself one of the most beautiful spots in the nation. Your people have the courage and determination and vigor that is needed. Your state authorities have acted with vision to the limit of their resources. All that you lack, is a little understanding and a little help from Washington.
For the Monongahela National Forest area and all of Randolph County are among the most beautiful and attractive vacation spots in the nation. In fact your entire State – the “Switzerland of the Americas” – should be a favored stopping place for many of the more than thirty million Americans who take a vacation trip each year. Yet – in the past eight years – this great natural beauty has been allowed to decay – your forests and parks have gone virtually undeveloped – and increasing pollution has threatened the beauty and health of your rivers. Only by acting now to halt this threatened destruction – by acting to preserve this great natural abundance – can we assure future generations of Americans of their chance to enjoy the recreation and the beauty which has been the historic heritage of West Virginia. And only by such action can the people of West Virginia be sure of the new jobs and the increased income which a booming tourist industry will bring.
First, we must act immediately to stop the destructive filthying of our lakes and rivers – a growing contamination which is destroying vitally needed recreational areas. Already many of West Virginia’s most beautiful waterways have been destroyed by contamination – pollution which will, unless it is halted, destroy the beauty of your rivers – kill their fish – and make them unsafe for swimming and water skiing. And the problem of pollution does not affect West Virginia alone – it is menacing all the major waterways of our country. But, despite this growing crisis in water the Administration has vetoed all of Congress’ efforts to deal with this problem – it has rejected the vital water pollution control program – which was our only real hope of solving the pollution problem. The next, Democratic, Administration must support – not destroy – this vital program – if a tourist industry for West Virginia is to become a reality.
Secondly, we must engage in a vastly expanded federal program to help the states in the development of vital forest and park areas. Certainly you are ready and willing to do much of this job yourself – and your state authorities are able and active. You have done a fine job with your forestry programs and built one of the most vigorous woodworking industries in the nation. But you do need help and assistance from the federal government – help and assistance which only a national effort can offer. For example, Federal Forest Research laboratories might well develop new uses for your forest products - -especially your abundant oakwood – and expand existing uses. These new uses would not only bring new prosperity to your timber industry and restore the thousands of jobs which this industry has lost in the past few years – but it would help provide the necessary funds for the development of camps and other badly needed recreation areas. Yet the government has let our forest research program virtually die out from lack of funds – many of our laboratories are operating at less than 50% of capacity. A Democratic Administration will revitalize and expand this program.
These programs – and many others – such as watershed development, flood control, and fisheries research – are absolutely necessary to the preservation of America’s great recreational abundance. The Republican failures to carry out these programs have been produced by policies of little vision – policies of false economy – policies which view a dollar saved now as more important than an investment in our future strength – our future needs – our future health – and our future greatness. As a result we have piled up an enormous deficit in wasted resources – decaying forests – lost recreational areas – destroyed natural beauty – contaminated water – and diminished stock of wildlife and fish.
The elimination of this deficit is one of the great challenges to the Democratic party. We intend to meet this challenge – to develop our great natural resources – so that the people of Randolph County and all Americans will benefit fully from the great natural beauty with which their land has been blessed.