The Ecology Center of Louisiana, a private, non-profit organization headquartered in New Orleans, collected and disseminated information on Louisiana’s environmental problems and emphasized public participation in resolution of those problems. The Ecology Center, most active between 1970 and 1983, was founded in 1969 around a kitchen table by a group of environmentally conscious citizens. Among them was J. Ross Vincent, a research chemical engineer from Wilmington, Delaware, who would go on to lead the Center for more than a decade.
Center services included a monthly newsletter, lectures and panel discussions on environmental subjects, assistance to schools and teachers in the development of environmental curricula, Louisiana’s first recycling program, an environmental library and hot-line, radio and television programs and lobbying of city, state and federal government representatives. Over time, the Ecology Center became an established resource called upon for expertise and guidance by environmentalists, politicians, business people, students and interested citizens.
Run by a board of directors made up of community members, the Ecology Center was assisted by a professional and volunteer staff and a Board of Advisors, which included the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, two U.S. Congressmen, an Assistant State Attorney General and various other government officials. During one of its busiest periods in early 1971, there were 146 people associated with the Ecology Center, including 131 paying members and 101 active volunteers. To fund its activities, the Center depended almost entirely on the support of its members and on private contributions from concerned citizens and businesses.
Issues and events on which the Center had an impact include limiting the use of the fire ant pesticide Mirex, the first Earth Day celebration in Louisiana, the implementation of the Federal Clean Air Act in Louisiana, public awareness of issues for the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, environmentally conscious urban planning, air pollution, construction of a deep draft oil terminal off of the Louisiana coast, the Waterford Nuclear Power Plant in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, public parks, water and air quality management, and regional transportation planning.
Scope and Content
The arrangement of the Ecology Center of Louisiana papers is largely based on the inventory of creator, J. Ross Vincent. However, a portion of the original subject files was integrated in the interest of cohesiveness. Papers document the activities of the Ecology Center through founding records, correspondence, articles and newsletters on environmental issues from its founding in 1969 until 1987 when J. Ross Vincent, the Center’s president and co-founder moved out of state. The predominant topics of conversation involve environmental issues affecting the state of Louisiana, the support for or opposition to environmental legislation and litigation, and the seeking or dispensing of environmental information.
Papers demonstrate that the Ecology Center was able to establish credibility with government agencies, the business community, organizations of concerned citizens and the public regarding environmental issues that directly affected the state of Louisiana and its inhabitants.
Other than general administrative papers and correspondence, papers are predominately divided by environmental subjects, including Air Pollution, Chemicals, Water Pollution and Coastal Zone Management, Land Use, Transportation, Solid Waste, Energy, Law and Litigation and Organizations, Conferences and Newsletters. Within each of the subjects, there is additional correspondence between the Ecology Center and concerned citizens, environmentalists and politicians. The collection includes information on a broad range of important environmental issues, as well as evidence of efforts by the Ecology Center and the impact of the Center to effect some change for the betterment of the environment.
Finally, the collection includes publications collected by and related to the organization.
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