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Andrus’ legacy makes us stronger

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The Snake River Alliance members, board, and staff are deeply saddened by the passing of former Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus. He was a friend, a leader, an ally and inspiration.

I first met Governor Andrus in 1984 shortly after the death of Senator Frank Church. Our conversation was clouded by grief for his dear friend. He said Church’s death had left him – and all of us – with a heavier responsibility to protect Idaho’s wilderness and wild places.

He carried that weight proudly and with great good humor. Even when he didn’t win, he was clear about his goals and respectful of his adversaries. Today, we feel that weight shift from his broad shoulders to ours.

In the 1980s and 1990s Governor Andrus was a powerful spokesperson for Idaho’s wild salmon and steelhead. He often made time to talk with younger conservation leaders about the plight of our fish and how to restore them. Always humble, he was quick to point out that just having the facts on your side wasn’t enough – and that he was only one governor from a small state with little political power.

Beatrice Brailsford, the Alliance’s nuclear program director, said, “In the 1970s, Governor Andrus’ efforts going against the federal government to stop nuclear waste from coming to Idaho were unprecedented across the West. He demanded an end to waste coming from Rocky Flats, Colorado, and set a public precedent that people living around nuclear weapons sites could fight back.”

In one of my last meetings with Governor Andrus he was proud of his conservation legacy because he had “put a lot of hay in the barn.” But his one regret was that as Governor he hadn’t been able to fully protect the Snake River aquifer from the threat of nuclear waste. It saddened him to know that all of the liquid waste in Idaho would not be “secured and above ground” in his lifetime.

History won’t forget him. We must celebrate his conservation successes such as the Alaska Lands Act, the Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness, and the legal victories that led to Idaho’s 1995 Nuclear Waste Settlement Agreement.

It is the things he didn’t accomplish in his lifetime that I can’t forget. Our wild places and wild rivers still need help. The Department of Energy still needs to know that Idaho will not be a dumping ground for nuclear materials.

Going forward, the Snake River Alliance will do our part. The goal of our “Don’t Waste Idaho” campaign is to keep Idaho safe from nuclear waste. Working together, we must assure our current political leaders make the best choices to protect Idaho.

The Alliance is so much stronger because of Governor Andrus’ life and legacy and for that we are very grateful.

Happy Trails, Cece!

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