Harold C. “Bud” Jordahl 1926-2010

We are very sorry to relate that founding board member and conservation giant Bud Jordahl passed away on Tuesday, May 11.

“Words like civility, integrity, positivism, commitment, volunteerism… all come to mind in describing Bud.”

The following is an excerpt from comments made by fellow 1000 Friends Board Member Steve Born on the Induction of Bud Jordahl into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame April 9, 2005, in Stevens Point.

Bud’s career highlights and enormous contributions have been summarized and noted in newspaper stories and in other award citations; while they paint a rich picture of his conservation achievements, chronological listings of his accomplishments have always seemed too sterile to me, missing the richness of his conservation life story. But I need to briefly recount some selected milestones here.

After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1950 with a degree in Forestry, he began his career with the Wisconsin Conservation Department as a district game manager in Viroqua, at which time his lifelong love affair with the Coulee Country of southwestern Wisconsin began (a love of the land reflected in his family’s private land stewardship and environmental restoration of their Richland county farm). He took time off in the mid-1950s to complete an MS in public administration at Harvard.

In the early 1960s, he held a variety of positions including director and deputy director with the Department of Resource Development (one of the predecessors of today’s DNR). His work included extensive leadership in recreation and natural resources planning, and during this period, he was also a principal in developing Gaylord Nelson’s ORAP—the precursor of today’s Stewardship Program.

In 1963, Bud joined the staff of Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall, serving as Regional Coordinator for the Upper Mississippi–Western Great Lakes Area—he was the top field representative for the Secretary’s Office in the region with responsibilities for coordinating the wide array of Department of Interior programs.

In 1967, Bud shifted gears—staying at the federal level and accepting an appointment from President Lyndon Johnson to serve as co-chair of the Upper Great Lakes Regional Commission. Much of the work dealt with stewardship and use of the region’s natural resources to strengthen the economy.

It was during this period (1964-68) when Bud worked closely with Gaylord Nelson in developing the Federal legislation establishing the St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers as Wild and Scenic Rivers, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore—again launching a lifelong commitment to the protection of those remarkable natural landscapes.

In 1965, Bud had accepted a part-time position as a lecturer in the UW Dept of Urban and Regional Planning—teaching a seminar in Resource Policy Issues that became his signature course—that class shaped my career as it did for many others.

In the late 1960s, the part-time appointment became formal and full-time—and until his retirement in 1989, Bud was a faculty member at UW-Madison, with a major commitment to UW-Extension. As an educator, not only has he played a primary role in the academic training of many of today’s conservation leaders, but he saw the role of Extension as one that should foster citizen education and involvement in understanding and protecting Wisconsin’s environmental heritage.

In the early 1970s, he served on the Natural Resources Board. There are many legacies stemming from his NRB years, but of special note was his insistence on the development of forward- looking master plans to guide and protect the use of our state public lands.

And yes, he found time to work with Gaylord Nelson in establishing the first Earth Day—a profound milestone in U. S. history.

As I noted, while Bud’s professional history is remarkable for its breadth and significant accomplishments—it never seems to fully chronicle what he’s done!