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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 23, 2002

Statement by the President

I commend Secretary Norton and Secretary Veneman for their strong leadership in addressing the widespread problems of declining forest health and the risk of destructive wildfires, particularly in the West.

Today's conference, highlighting the completion of the Ten Year Comprehensive Strategy Implementation Plan, marks an important new cooperative effort between the federal government, states, local governments, Native American Tribes, and concerned citizens and organizations.

Working together, we will promote sound forest management to restore forest health and make the recreational opportunities and resources of our forests more accessible. In many areas, this will require active forest management efforts to thin our forests of excessive natural fuels and restore native vegetation to our forests and rangelands.

Our goal is to reduce the threat that wildfires pose to homes, communities and the environment. Severe drought conditions in many areas of the United States make it essential that we cooperate in our efforts to fight fires and reduce the fuel loads that cause them.

Cooperation will also enable us to move forward on other important endeavors, such as improving the performance of the Northwest Forest Plan. I thank Governor Kempthorne and Governor Kitzhaber for their help in crafting this bipartisan agreement and for hosting this important conference.


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