Public Papers

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on Development of Wetlands Conservation Policy


President Bush today visited the Everglades National Park to emphasize his commitment to achieving the goal of no net loss of wetlands. On December 13, he signed into law the Everglades National Park Protection and Expansion Act of 1989, which expands the park by over 100,000 acres. The President believes this type of environmental stewardship can coexist with economic growth and prosperity as we face the challenge of protecting the Nation's wetlands.

At the President's direction, the Domestic Policy Council, which has created a task force on wetlands, is in the process of examining how best to implement the President's goal of no net loss. The Domestic Policy Council review is expected to lead to recommendations for revising Executive Order 11990, which was signed in 1977 and directs Federal agencies to minimize the loss of wetlands resulting from Federal actions, but does not address the broader issue of achieving no net loss. In addition, the task force will examine other methods to achieve the goal of no net loss and make recommendations to the President in late 1990.

The task force has been undertaking background studies and briefings on wetlands preservation. During the coming months, the task force will hold a series of public meetings around the country to solicit public comment on appropriate strategies for achieving the no-net-loss goal, including consideration of the effectiveness of regulatory programs and the use of nonregulatory approaches. The meetings will also focus on specific issues, such as losses which are related to agricultural production, losses of wetlands in the Mississippi River Basin and along the Louisiana coast, and the unique challenges posed in Alaska. Information gained at these meetings will be used in the development of recommendations to the President.

The task force will accomplish its work through the use of small interagency groups, each of which will develop options on a particular issue for consideration by the full task force. These groups will address a number of issues, such as: the scope and meaning of the no-net-loss goal; specific Executive order language required to ensure that Federal policies assist in achieving the goal; the important roles of State and local communities and private conservation groups in preserving wetlands; the role of market-based incentives in wetland protection; mitigation of wetlands loss through replacement elsewhere; and additional steps that may be necessary to implement the no-net-loss goal, including whether legislative changes are required.