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January 12, 1999

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We will honor the core principle Theodore Roosevelt set out for us a hundred years ago; we will leave this magnificent country 'even a better land for our descendants than it is for us'.

President Bill Clinton
January 12, 1999

Today, President Clinton and Vice President Gore visit the National Arboretum, to announce a landmark initiative to protect America's land resources. This $1 billion Lands Legacy Initiative expands efforts to save America's natural treasures, and provides significant new resources to states and communities to protect local green spaces. The President will work with Congress to create a permanent funding stream beginning in fiscal year 2001. In addition, the President will call on Congress to extend permanent wilderness protection to more than 5 million acres within 17 national parks and monuments.

Preserving America's Natural Treasures. President Clinton and Vice President Gore are committed to the preservation of our natural treasures and resources. The Clinton-Gore Administration has protected Yellowstone Park from mining, created a 1.7 million-acre national monument in Utah's spectacular red-rock country, and forged a historic agreement to save ancient California redwoods. The Lands Legacy Initiative expands these efforts with $442 million for federal land acquisitions, including:

  • The Mojave Desert: Acquiring 450,000 acres within and around Mojave and Joshua Tree National Parks;
  • New England Forests: Acquiring additional land within the national forests and wildlife refuges in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York;
  • The Everglades: Acquiring lands critical to ongoing federal-state restoration efforts;
  • The Lewis and Clark Trail: Protecting the explorers' historic route along the Missouri River;
  • Civil War Battlefields: Acquiring lands within Gettysburg, Antietem, and other battlegrounds;

In addition, the President is calling on Congress to grant permanent wilderness protection to over 5 million acres within the backcountry of Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier, Great Smoky Mountain, Cumberland Gap and 12 other national parks and monuments, giving these lands the highest level of federal protection available.

A Cleaner Environment For The 21st Century. A new century poses new conservation challenges. We must work to preserve natural wonders in our own backyards that grow scarcer every day. The Lands Legacy Initiative, to be coordinated with the Livability Agenda announced yesterday by Vice President Gore, provides $588 million to state and local governments, private land trusts, and other nonprofit groups for:

  • Land Acquisition Grants: $150 million in matching grants for land or easements for urban parks, greenways, outdoor recreation, wetlands, and wildlife habitat;
  • Planning Grants and Loans: $50 million in matching grants for open space planning, and $10 million to support $50 million in low-interest loans to rural areas for "smart growth" planning and development;
  • Farmland Protection: $50 million to protect threatened farmland and open space;
  • Urban Parks and Forests: $40 million to maintain and expand urban and community forests, and $4 million to renovate parks in distressed urban neighborhoods;
  • Forest and Wildlife Protection: $50 million for easements to protect critical forest habitat, and $80 million for habitat conservation plans to protect endangered species;
  • Protecting our Oceans and Coasts: The Lands Legacy Initiative includes funds for federal and state efforts to protect ocean and coastal resources, including marine sanctuaries, coastlands, estuaries, and coral reefs.

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