Newly minted president Richard Nixon took notice. In December 1970, the Republican launched the Environmental Protection Agency. Its mission: clean up the ravages of decades of industrial pollution that had degraded the health of our air, land and water.
Ohio played a pivotal role in the groundswell of late 1960′s environmentalism. On June 22, 1969, the Cuyahoga River famously went aflame. This was at least the 13th time that oil and debris turned the river into a watery tinderbox.
People have an understandable aversion to seeing their streams ablaze, and the ’69 Cuyahoga River fire was a catalyst for the rise of environmentalism that led to Earth Day.
Ohio conservationists were ahead of the curve. In February 1968, legislators passed the nation’s first Scenic Rivers Act. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Ohio’s Scenic Rivers Program, administered through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.