Lady Bird Johnson died on July 11th, 2007, leaving behind a legacy of conservation and beautification. A Texas native, she always had a love of the outdoors, and protecting the natural landscape became her primary cause as First Lady. Though she was a pioneering First Lady that started her own political initiatives and business ventures, she is primarily remembered for her Beautification Act and efforts to protect native plants.
Here are five ways Lady Bird Johnson’s love for nature still lives on today.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Nicknamed the “Johnny Appleseed of Wildflowers,” Lady Bird Johnson and actress Helen Hayes spent the 1980s planting natural flowers and plants in Texas and started the National Wildflower Research Center. She spent the rest of her life raising money for the center, which was renamed in her honor in 1998. Lady Bird Johnson’s efforts to plant and protect wildflowers transformed the outskirts of Austin, Texas, into a sanctuary of natural beauty.
Watch a mini bio of Lady Bird Johnson addressing an Oregon crowd about conservation in America:
Lady Bird Lake
Austin’s Town Lake was a polluted reservoir that many considered an eyesore. Lady Bird Johnson worked with Mayor Roy Butler to conserve and beautify the lake in the 1970s. Her efforts transformed the lake into a first-class park that includes bike trails and picnic areas. The lake was renamed in her honor in 2007.
Lady Bird’s Bill
The Highway Beautification Act of 1965 was first mentioned by President Lyndon B. Johnson during his State of the Union address. However, the public knew that it was his wife that was the champion of the cause, earning it the name “Lady Bird’s Bill.” Though the bill itself has become fairly lax, Lady Bird’s Bill prevented advertising and billboards on many U.S. highways.
What do postage stamps and conservation have in common? Watch a clip of Lady Bird Johnson’s answer:
In 1912, the United States received over 3,000 cherry trees as a gift from Japan, the first two of which were planted by First Lady Helen Taft. Inspired by Lady Bird Johnson’s efforts to beautify Washington, Japan gave another 3,00 cherry trees to the First Lady, which were planted in 1965 near the Washington Monument.
Lady Bird Johnson Grove
In 1969, President Richard Nixon named a portion of Redwood National Park in honor of Lady Bird Johnson to acknowledge her work for the National Park Service. Lady Bird Johnson Grove is a protected stretch of redwoods on the California coast.