April 22, 1999

Today, in remarks at Shenandoah National Park commemorating Earth Day, Vice President Gore called on Congress to approve the Presidents Lands Legacy initiative and provide permanent funding to protect Americas land and coastal resources. Lands Legacy, proposed as part of the Presidents FY 2000 budget, includes $1 billion to protect natural treasures and help communities preserve local green spaces -- the largest one-year investment ever proposed for the protection of Americas land and coastal resources. To sustain these efforts through the coming century, the President and Vice President also are calling for guaranteed funding of at least $1 billion a year.

Preserving Americas Lands Legacy. Over the past six years, President Clinton and Vice President Gore have worked to restore the Florida Everglades, protect Yellowstone from mining, preserve Utahs spectacular red-rock canyons, and save the ancient redwoods of Californias Headwaters Forest. Lands Legacy expands these efforts with $442 million for federal land acquisitions. Priorities include:

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

A Conservation Vision for the 21st Century. Beyond saving Americas "crown jewels," we must work to preserve natural wonders in our very backyards. Protecting local green spaces helps improve air and water quality, sustain wildlife, provide families with places to play and relax, and make our communities more livable. Lands Legacy provides $588 million to state and local governments, including:

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 for easements on 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.

Guaranteed Funding for the Future. To sustain these efforts in the years ahead, the President and Vice President are calling for legislation to provide a permanent funding stream of at least $1 billion a year, within a balanced budget, beginning in FY 2001. This legislation should:

Dedicate about half of the funding to state, local, and tribal efforts to protect or restore open space, greenways, urban parks, wildlife habitat, coastal wetlands, farms and forests. Allow communities to use a range of tools, including easements and other flexible mechanisms, to protect resources in the manner best suited to local needs. Protect wildlife by funding efforts to preserve and restore a diversity of habitats. Recognize the unique environmental needs of coastal states without creating new incentives for offshore oil leasing.

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