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Statement by the President: Valles Caldera National Preserve (7/25/00)

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The Briefing Room
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                                    July 25, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

     I am very pleased today to sign bipartisan legislation authorizing
protection of New Mexico?s Baca Ranch as the new Valles Caldera National

     From time to time, we are presented with an opportunity to save a
truly magnificent piece of America?s rich natural endowment.  Today we
seize one such opportunity.  At the heart of the scenic Jemez Mountains
west of Santa Fe, the Baca Ranch contains the remarkable Valles Caldera ?
the collapsed crater of an ancient volcano ? and sustains one of our
nation?s largest wild elk herds.  Thanks to the careful stewardship of the
Dunigan family, this extraordinary landscape appears today much as it did
when the first settlers arrived.  And thanks to the bipartisan efforts of
the New Mexico delegation, we will ensure that it remains healthy and whole
for generations to come.

     I commend the Dunigans, for offering us the chance to open this
treasure to the American people; Senators Bingaman and Domenici, and
Representatives Udall and Wilson, for helping to lead this historic
conservation effort; and the leaders of the Santa Clara Pueblo, for sharing
with us their reverence for this land.

     Today?s success should inspire us to work even harder to conserve
America?s natural heritage.  The acquisition of Baca Ranch was made
possible with increased conservation funding I secured last year through my
Lands Legacy initiative.  I have proposed another significant increase in
Lands Legacy funding for the coming fiscal year.  Unfortunately,
appropriations bills passed by both the House and the Senate would provide
only a third of my request, cutting Lands Legacy funding considerably below
this year?s level.  In addition, riders attached to several appropriations
measures aim to cripple wildlife protections, surrender public lands to
private interests, and hamper common-sense efforts to combat global
warming.  I urge Congress to drop these anti-environmental riders and to
fully fund my Lands Legacy initiative.

     Ultimately, our goal must be to establish permanent conservation
funding so that each new generation will have the resources to protect
other critical lands across America.  I am very pleased that the Senate
Energy and Natural Resources Committee today approved a version of
bipartisan legislation passed overwhelmingly by the House that moves us
closer to that goal.  I am fully committed to working with Congress to
create a lasting endowment to support federal, state and local conservation
efforts.  Let us work together, in the spirit of today?s historic
conservation achievement, to strengthen, not weaken, environmental


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