John F. Kennedy’s Conservation Tour in September, 1963

In September 1963, President John F. Kennedy made his historical Conservation Tour across the United States. The tour was organized by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall. They suggested that Kennedy make a tour of the nation, highlighting environmental crises and proposing solutions to existing environmental concerns. Those topics were likely to get positive responses from the members of the audience and potential voters in the upcoming 1964 election. During his five-day trip, the President visited eleven states from Pennsylvania to California and delivered fifteen speeches. Most of his addresses focused on the environment and were intended to raise the country’s awareness of the existing problems; however, Kennedy also discussed his political agenda concerning the country’s national and international affairs.


This tour highlights five locations in the Intermountain West (in the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Utah), where President John F. Kennedy delivered his historical speeches.

The first public speech delivered by President John F. Kennedy in the Intermountain West focused on the diversity of the state of Wyoming and the importance of the youth’s contribution in protecting the country’s invaluable resources. The President was determined to continue the great conservation movement of the early 1900s.
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The second public address given by President John F. Kennedy in Utah targeted the state’s development and its potential to become one of the most popular recreation areas in the U.S. At the end of his last speech during the Conservation Tour in the Intermountain West, JFK initiated the first power generator at the Flaming Gorge Powerplant along the Utah-Wyoming border.
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At Yellowstone County Fairgrounds in Billings, Montana, President John F. Kennedy extended his message on conservation. He also focused on the prevention of a nuclear conflict and the importance of maintaining world peace. Some significant issues in the U.S. domestic policy like education, economics, and national security were also addressed.
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Although the primary purpose of President Kennedy’s Conservation Tour was environmental protection and efficient use of natural resources, a significant part of his speech in Great Falls focused on U.S. foreign policy. Maintaining mutually beneficial relations with other countries of the world and promoting U.S. national interests were on the president’s international agenda.
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