Reference my previous post on Lorrie Otto and DDT. Since I mentioned that banning DDT led to the charter of Wild Ones, I thought you might like to read a synopsis about how it all happened:
1942: DDT First Used
DDT was introduced during WWII to protect our troops from the mosquito-borne disease malaria. It is still being used selectively in some tropical countries.
1950s: Citizen Activists Got Involved
Citizen activists started sending letters and confronting editors, WDNR, and local municipalities. These activists included not just conservationists, but also hunters, fishermen, professors, members of garden clubs and many others.
1951: Citizens Natural Resources Association of Wisconsin Formed
The first openly rabble-rousing group Citizens Natural Resources Association of Wisconsin (CNRA) begins fighting for the preservation, management and restoration of Wisconsin’s natural resources. They follow the principles of Aldo Leopold and have remained committed conservationists to this day.
1957: Lorrie Otto Confronted Officials With Evidence
After Lorrie Otto, the High Priestess of the Natural Landscaping Movement, dropped off twenty-eight dead robins at their offices, Bayside, Wisconsin officials asked her, “What do you want, Mrs. Otto, birds or trees?” This wasn’t her first battle with Bayside officials.
1960s: Raising Awareness
CNRA focused on increasing awareness of misuse of chemicals. See the The First Decade.
1968: Plotting Further Victories Over DDT
Wisconsin and New York (EDF) strategists began to plot their battle against DDT based on studies that showed DDT was present in virtually every body of water in Wisconsin.
1968: Hearing to Determine DDT’s Status as a Pollutant
The Wisconsin Administrative hearing to determine if DDT was a pollutant began. Strategists had gotten the City of Milwaukee to stop spraying DDT, but they wanted to present scientific evidence against DDT, and get a judgment against its use. The hearing dragged on for nearly six months, with Lorrie Otto attending every session, reporting back to CNRA, and working with the strategists to develop new tactics.
1968: Wisconsin’s DDT Hearing in the Spotlight
The Capital Times started sending news on the Wisconsin DDT hearing nationwide. Every afternoon Whitney Gould would file a story, putting Wisconsin’s DDT hearing into the national news.
1969: Michigan Bans DDT
A major victory as Michigan quietly banned DDT.
1969: The USDA Regulates the use of DDT
Because of the nationwide news coverage, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates the use of DDT nationwide.
1970: Wisconsin Bans DDT
The Pesticide Review Board was established to update pesticide-control measures for use in Wisconsin’s very strong agriculture industry, and on January 15, 1970, Governor Warren Knowles signed the law banning the use of DDT.
1970: The First Earth Day
With assistance from CNRA and others associated with the Wisconsin Administrative hearing, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson founded the first Earth Day on April 22. As governor, Nelson had established a strong conservation record, and later, in the U.S. Senate, lobbied for a safer environment – proposing a ban on DDT as early as 1965.
1970: DDT Ruled a Pollutant
Hearing Examiner Maurice Van Sustern ruled that, under the State’s water-quality standards, DDT was polluting Wisconsin waters.
1970: The United States Environmental Protection Agency Created
Creating the EPA brought the responsibility for environmental health of the U.S. under one organization instead of several, each working for their own interests.
1972: USA Banned DDT
EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus announced the ban on “virtually all interstate sales and shipments of DDT.”
1972: The Federal Clean Water Act
The Act provides for pollution-control programs and sets water-quality standards in surface waters. This includes regulating construction of sewage-treatment plants and discharge of contaminants by the manufacturing and agriculture industries.
1977: Wild Ones Garden Club formed
After DDT was banned, Lorrie Otto set about healing the Earth by presenting workshops throughout the USA on native plants and natural landscaping. After listening to Lorrie’s workshops held at the Schlitz Audubon Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a group of men and women continued to meet informally to discuss native plants, natural landscaping and biodiversity. They called themselves the Wild Ones. As knowledge of the group spread, others joined from not only the Milwaukee area, but throughout Wisconsin and adjoining states, leading to the eventual creation of the national environmental education and advocacy organization called Wild Ones Natural Landscapers Ltd in 1979.
Today: Some Are Still in Denial
There are still those who deny the scientific basis for the banning of DDT, considering the concerns and regulations politically motivated. It will take a concentrated effort to make sure Lorrie’s conservation goals of healing the Earth remain intact.
If you want to read the complete story about banning DDT, here are a couple of books for you to consider.
DDT Wars by Charles F Wurster