Today, on our nations 28th Earth Day, we have come to the Appalachian Trail and to this gorgeous confluence of rivers to celebrate the foresight of early conservationists... We have come here to dedicate ourselves to carrying forth their abiding sense of stewardship into the new millennium. We have come here to promise that our children will inherit an America whose natural bounty is even greater than it is today.
President Bill Clinton
President Clinton's Conservation Agenda
Today, President Clinton and Vice President Gore commemorate Earth Day by traveling to Harper's Ferry, W. Va., to help volunteers maintain America's longest footpath, the Appalachian Trail. Their efforts, and those of countless others today across the country, reflect America's deep commitment to saving and restoring our natural treasures. In five years, the Clinton Administration has protected or enhanced nearly 150 million acres of public and private lands, from from world-famous parks to hidden backyard wonders. The President and Vice President are fighting to save and restore more of America's natural treasures, and today called on Congress to support -- not thwart -- these efforts.
The Land that Binds Us. The Appalachian Trail, running 2,157 miles through 14 states, symbolizes the bonds between our people and our land. Trekking from mountain to valley to city and town, we are inspired by nature's wonders and discover traces of our past. Generations of volunteers have built and maintained the trail. President Clinton is working to acquire the last remaining stretches so the entire path, from Georgia to Maine, is protected.
A Conservation Legacy. At the dawn of the 20th century, Theodore Roosevelt committed America to the conservation of our land and resources. As we near a new century -- and a new millennium -- President Clinton is fulfilling that legacy. He has preserved California's desert and the red rock canyons of Utah, and is working to restore the Florida Everglades, protect Yellowstone from mining, and save the ancient redwoods of Headwaters Forest.
New Partnerships for Land Stewardship. President Clinton is forging a new conservation vision for a new era, building partnerships so that all Americans can help nurture our lands. Conservation is no longer just creating parks and refuges. Most of our land is in private hands. So we are lending families and farmers the tools to better tend their lands. Innovative collaborations are providing habitat for fish and wildlife, cleaning our water, and protecting our soil -- while ensuring that people can continue to make a living off their land.
Fighting for our Lands. President Clinton has stopped the Republican Congress from selling off and paving over our parks and public lands. Today, he urges Congress to end its attacks on the environment and help build on America's conservation legacy:
New Acquisitions. With 1998 funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the President proposes to complete the Appalachian Trail, preserve critical winter range for Yellowstone bison, rebuild salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest, protect Civil War battlefields and acquire nearly 100 other natural and historic treasures. The money's available, but Congress is stalling. Congress should release the funds now.
Preserving and Restoring Parks and Critical Lands. The President's five-year budget proposes a 43 percent increase for acquisition of natural and historic treasures. It also would provide a nearly $1 billion increase for priority maintenance and construction at national parks and other public lands -- projects that include repair of deteriorating infrastructure to protect the health and safety of visitors. Congress should help preserve our parks for future generations instead of slashing funds to restore them.
Healthy Forests. A new science-based agenda for America's 155 national forests emphasizes recreation, wildlife and water quality, and reforms logging practices to assure steady, sustainable supplies of timber and jobs. Key elements include a road-building moratorium in roadless areas and elimination of timber road subsidies. Congress should back the new forest agenda instead of heedlessly accelerating the logging.
President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore