For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 22, 2002
President Tours Area Damaged by Squires Fire
Squires Peak Fire Area
11:33 A.M. PDT
Q Mr. President, if I may, your proposal to thin out the forest a little bit, some critics say it might cause a drastic increase in commercial logging. What do you say --
THE PRESIDENT: What the critics need to do is come and stand right where I stand. It's -- what the critics need to do is come and see firsthand the effects of bad forest policy. That's what they need to come and see. And by the way, there's nothing wrong with people being able to earn a living off of effective forest management. There are a lot of people in this part of the state that can't find work because we don't properly manage our forests. And this is the second fire site I've been to this summer, and it's the same story. Had we properly managed our forests, the devastation cause would not nearly -- have been nearly as severe as it has been. And it's a crying shame.
You heard the man say that when a forest like this burns, there's more likely to be disease. The beetles will come and start -- we've got to do a better job. And that's why I'm here. I'm going to talk about how the administration can move, and I'm going to call upon Congress to enact some reasonable legislation to make sure we better manage our forest, so these guys aren't having to fight fires every year. Particularly, one of the biggest we've seen in a long time, the Biscuit fire. And the point is, is that we can prevent fire by good sound practice.
* * * * *
Q Mr. President, do you have any reaction to President Musharraf's rewriting of the Pakistani constitution?
THE PRESIDENT: My reaction about President Musharraf, he's still tight with us on the war against terror, and that's what I appreciate. He's a -- he understands that we've got to keep al Qaeda on the run, and that by keeping him on the run, it's more likely we will bring him to justice. And I appreciate his strong support.
Obviously, to the extent that our friends promote democracy, it's important. We will continue to work with our friends and allies to promote democracy, give people a chance to express their opinions the proper way. And -- so we'll stay in touch with President Musharraf in more ways than one.
Q Mr. President --
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q -- back to the fire. Do we have enough money in the federal coffer to pay for all the things needed throughout the West?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we'll -- if we don't we'll deal with it. Because I mentioned to the Governor, Congress has got a way of spending money. My job is to make sure they spend on priorities. And if I didn't think the forest of the United States was a priority, I wouldn't be here. It is a priority.
The other thing is, is that there are partnerships which can be put together to the benefit of those who care about conservation, the state, and those who employ people. And the approach I'm going to talk about and the approach, frankly, that the Governor has worked with Governor Kempthorne of Idaho on is a balanced approach, one that recognizes more than one party involved, that there are a variety of folks involved with the health of our forests, and all voices ought to be listened to and a strategy ought to be developed that will -- that will achieve goals. One of the goals is prevent fire, healthy forests. Another goal is going to be to conserve our forests. Another goal will be to provide jobs. So we believe we can do that.
Q Sir, Bill Simon's family's investigation fund was found guilty of fraud. How do you reconcile that fact with your visits tomorrow to California to campaign for him, given your corporate accounting --
THE PRESIDENT: I agree -- I understand your question. Bill Simon assures us that when the courts look at this case he'll be innocent, and I take the man for his word.
Okay. You're tired of me answering questions, I know. (Laughter.) It's unbelievable, two days in a row.
Q We like it.
THE PRESIDENT: What?
Q We like it.
END 11:43 A.M. PDT