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Public Papers - 1990 - March

Message to the Congress Transmitting Proposed Reforestation Legislation

1990-03-22

To the Congress of the United States:

Today I am pleased to transmit a legislative proposal entitled the ``National Tree Trust Act of 1990.'' This proposal is a key part of my ``America the Beautiful'' initiative, and it would enhance the growing partnership between the public and private sectors to plant trees across America. Also transmitted is a section-by-section analysis.

President Theodore Roosevelt began this century by directing the Nation's attention to the protection of valuable public lands -- America's treasure trove of parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and rangelands. As the end of the century approaches, it is appropriate that this final decade be one in which conservation, enhancement, and protection of our irreplaceable national assets rise to the forefront of national concerns. With this as our goal, my FY 1991 Budget proposes a new initiative -- ``America the Beautiful.'' Our initiative reflects my support for appropriate expansion and proper maintenance of the Nation's parks, refuges, forests, and public lands. It is also based on my determination to involve all Americans in strengthening the Nation's natural resources heritage. Finally, this initiative expresses my firm commitment to providing responsible stewardship of the country's heritage for the benefit of generations to come.

My ``America the Beautiful'' initiative includes three components. First, we propose to expand Federal recreational land acquisition that involves activities of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture. Second, the Department of the Interior is undertaking an effort -- ``Legacy '99'' -- to enhance resource protection and recreation. Third, we propose a national tree planting and forest improvement initiative to be administered by the Department of Agriculture. The first two components will be carried out under existing authorities. The enclosed draft legislation will permit full implementation of the third component.

Trees are one of our most valuable resources. They contribute to the environmental, economic, and social well-being of this country. They enhance biodiversity, wildlife, air and water quality, and recreational opportunities. Trees improve landscape aesthetics and property values, reduce soil erosion, and provide many valuable wood products. They also contribute to energy conservation through the shading and cooling of buildings and by serving as windbreaks.

The proposal I am transmitting to the Congress today authorizes Presidential designation of a private nonprofit Foundation to receive a one-time grant for the purpose of promoting community tree planting and cultivation projects. Second, it authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a rural tree planting and forest improvement program and a community tree planting and improvement program. Third, it authorizes appropriations to the Secretary of Agriculture for a grant to permit the Foundation to begin its important work.

The Foundation will promote public awareness and a spirit of volunteerism, solicit private sector contributions, and oversee the use of these contributions to encourage tree planting and cultivation projects throughout the United States.

The Foundation will help forge cooperation among individuals, businesses, governments, and community organizations and provide financial assistance to grass-roots volunteers to plant trees. It will help draw national attention to the need for increased planting of trees in our communities where, on average, only one tree is now being planted for every four that die or are removed. It is a program that will reach every State, if not each and every community. All of our citizens will be encouraged to participate in this program.

Enactment of this proposal will permit us to harness the efforts of individuals and organizations to undertake the nationwide planting and cultivation of invaluable trees. The prompt passage of this proposal by the Congress will demonstrate our shared commitment to preserving one of our most valuable natural resources, our precious heritage of trees. Let us ensure that our descendants will be able to share our pride in referring to this land as ``America the Beautiful.''

George Bush

The White House,

March 22, 1990.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
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