January 12, 1999

President Clinton and Vice President Gore hike the Appalachian Trail in April, 1998Today, at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., President Clinton and Vice President Gore announce a $1 billion Lands Legacy Initiative -- the largest one-year investment ever in the protection of America’s land resources. This FY 2000 budget proposal -- a 125 percent increase over FY 1999 -- expands federal efforts to save America’s natural treasures, and provides significant new resources to states and communities to protect local green spaces. To sustain these efforts in the new century, the President commits to work with Congress to create a permanent funding stream beginning in FY 2001. In addition, the President calls on Congress to extend permanent wilderness protection to more than 5 million acres within 17 national parks and monuments. This landmark initiative charts a new conservation vision for the 21st century, preserving irreplaceable pieces of our natural legacy within easy reach of every citizen.

Saving America’s Natural Treasures. At the start of this century, President Theodore Roosevelt called on Americans to save the best of our natural endowment for all time. His legacy is seen across the country, in our parks, our forests, and our wildlife refuges. President Clinton has continued to fulfill this vision by protecting Yellowstone Park from mining, creating a 1.7 million-acre national monument in Utah’s spectacular red-rock country, and forging a historic agreement to save ancient California redwoods. The Lands Legacy Initiative 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.

Protecting our Parks. 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 Mountains, Cumberland Gap and 12 other national parks and monuments, giving these lands the highest level of federal protection available.

A Conservation Vision for the 21st Century. A new century poses new conservation challenges. Beyond saving America’s 'crown jewels,' we must work as well to preserve natural wonders in our very backyards that grow scarcer every day. 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, 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 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.

Protecting our Oceans and Coasts. Lands Legacy includes funds for federal and state efforts to protect ocean and coastal resources: $29 million to expand and protect national marine sanctuaries; $90 million to states to protect and restore coastlands; $19 million to states for estuary protections; and $45 million to restore coral reefs, fisheries and marine habitats.

President Clinton's Lands Legacy Initiative

Remarks by the President and Vice President on Announcement of Lands Legacy Initiative

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