For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 2, 2002
President Bush Signs Wetlands Conservation Act
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
9:30 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Please be seated. Thank you. Glad you're here. Welcome to the White House.
Today, we're taking important action to conserve North America's wetlands, which will help keep our water clean and help provide habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife. Through this legislation, the federal government will continue its partnership with landowners, conservation groups, and states to save and improve millions of acres of wetlands. The North American Wetlands Conservation Reauthorization Act shows our concern for the environment and our respect for future generations of Americans.
I appreciate two members of my Cabinet who are here today. I'm honored the Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton is with us, the Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, thank you both for coming.
I appreciate the ambassador, Ambassador Kergin from Canada, for being here as well. Mr. Ambassador, glad you're here. Thanks for coming.
I want to thank Bob Smith, senator from New Hampshire, for being here, and for his work on this bill. I want to thank Wayne Gilcrest from Maryland -- he's got a big interest in wetlands as well as the Chesapeake Bay -- for coming here. I appreciate so very much Robert Underwood, ranking member from Guam for coming. I'm sorry that Jim Hansen is not with us today. He was the Chairman of the House Committee on Resources, who helped write and sponsor and get this legislation passed through the Congress.
I appreciate Steve Williams, who is the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, for coming today. Where are you, Steve? There you are. Thanks for coming.
And I want to thank the president of Ducks Unlimited, John Tomke, thanks for coming, John. I'm glad you all are here. And I want to thank you all for coming as well.
With this signature today, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act will be reauthorized for five years. The law authorizes federal money to match donations from sportsmen, state wildlife agencies, conservationists and landowners. Since 1991, more than $462 million in federal grants have helped to encourage $1.3 billion in contributions from others.
Together these funds have restored streams and rivers, re-established native plants and trees, acquired land that is home to more than a third of America's threatened and endangered species. Because about 75 percent of the wetlands are held privately, we need to encourage cooperation with our landowners. This legislation shows that when government and landowners and conservationists and others work together, we can make dramatic progress in preserving the beauty and the quality of our environment.
I want to thank the Congress for supporting this legislation. And I ask the members of the Congress and the two Cabinet members who are here today to join me as I sign this important piece of legislation.
(The bill is signed.) (Applause.)
Thank you. Thank you.
END 9:33 A.M.