Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 21, 1999



Today, in his weekly radio address, President Clinton announced new protections for critical lands adjoining Yellowstone National Park - an important step to preserve the park's famed bison and geysers, including Old Faithful. The President highlighted other new acquisitions that protect ancient petroglyphs in Bandelier National Monument, the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., and California's Big Sur Coast. And he called on Congress to approve his Lands Legacy initiative -- $1 billion in FY2000 to protect natural treasures and local green spaces, and permanent funding of at least $1 billion a year to continue these efforts in the 21st century.

Restoring Greater Yellowstone. Last year, the Administration completed the historic acquisition of the proposed New World Mine north of Yellowstone, protecting America's first national park from the threat of acid mine runoff. Today, the President announced another major step to protect the greater Yellowstone ecosystem - an agreement to acquire lands critical to preserving the park's wildlife and world-famous geysers. Working with the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service will acquire title to -- or conservation easements on - 9,300 acres of the Royal Teton Ranch north of Yellowstone. The lands, a mosaic of forest and grassland extending from the Yellowstone River to the high peaks of the Gallatin Range, will be under the management of the Gallatin National Forest. In addition, the federal government will acquire geothermal rights to the entire 12,000-acre ranch. This $13 million agreement will:

  • Provide critical winter range for Yellowstone bison, which in some years face starvation because of inadequate food supplies within the park.
  • Preserve important habitat and migration corridors for elk, antelope, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears and other wildlife.
  • Provide new recreation opportunities for hikers, campers, hunters, and anglers.
  • Prevent the development of geothermal resources critical to maintaining Old Faithful and other Yellowstone geysers.

Preserving Other Precious Lands. Protection of the Royal Teton Ranch will be accomplished with funds approved by Congress at the President's request. A total of $328 million secured last year by the Administration is being used to protect 115 natural and historic sites in 38 states and Puerto Rico. New acquisitions highlighted today by the President will protect ancient petroglyphs in Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., and California's Big Sur Coast.

A Conservation Commitment for the 21st Century. In his balanced budget for FY2000, the President proposed a record $1 billion Lands Legacy initiative to protect more natural treasures, and to provide new resources to states and communities to preserve farms, urban parks, coastlands, wetlands, and working forests. Proposed acquisitions would protect 110 natural and historic sites in 40 states and territories, including the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Cape Cod National Seashore, the Pelican Island wildlife refuge in Florida, and the Georgia birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. So far, however, Congress has cut the President's request by nearly two-thirds. In addition, the President is proposing permanent funding of at least $1 billion a year beginning in FY2001 to continue these efforts throughout the coming century. About half the funding would be reserved for states and local communities. Today, the President called on Congress to approve full funding for next year and to join him in creating a permanent fund to preserve America's lands legacy.

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