Public Papers

Remarks at a Tree-Planting Ceremony in Indianapolis, Indiana


Well, thank you all very much. And Senator Lugar and Senator Coats; the Governor of the State, Gov. Evan Bayh; Mayor Hudnut; Director Strong; and distinguished guests and all of you ladies and gentlemen freezing out there on this spring day, I'm just delighted to be here, ``back home in Indiana'' again, and, as the banner says, to plant ``Trees for Tomorrow'' that will benefit our nation and its kids.

Not far from here is the hometown of a great former Indiana Senator who, in my view, has been an even greater Vice President -- a man I trust, a Hoosier I rely on, Dan Quayle. He is serving our nation very well, thank you.

And speaking of another friend, I'm sorry Bobby Knight isn't here. It wouldn't hurt him to be around a kinder, gentler event like planting trees, but nevertheless -- [laughter] -- please give him my very best.

I'm glad to see all of you here in a city which, unlike some, can see the forest for the trees and which intends this year to plant, as your mayor just said -- my old friend Bill Hudnut -- 30,000. Trees are in a larger sense the sanctuaries of mankind, renewing and refreshing. And many of you have grown up reading the great Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley, who often observed that the individual could enrich the tapestry of life. Well, so it is with trees. They renew and restore the natural magic of our world. Think of how trees enhance our atmosphere -- Bill touched on it -- providing oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide, and how they enhance the environment. For their beauty is breathtaking, and their bounty, breathgiving.

Ten weeks ago I announced a new program to help preserve the wonderful legacy of our trees and, indeed, to help us conserve all natural resources. It's called America the Beautiful. It will help plant the seeds of environmental stewardship not only by planting trees but through other steps as well. America the Beautiful calls for expanded land acquisition for our national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and public lands and funds to maintain and restore them. Our program is similar to your Clean and Green Month. It seeks clean water, clean land, clean air. In that spirit, let me note that later today the Senate will consider our clean air legislation, the first rewrite of the Clean Air Act in over a decade. I am proud of this proposal to cut smog, acid rain, and toxic pollution -- to make America cleaner and safer. Tonight marks an historic vote. So, I urge the Senate to act not merely for this generation but for all generations to come.

Trees, of course, can help ensure clean air. Consider: One recent study showed that trees, much more than water, consume the carbon dioxide that is building up in our atmosphere. Research also shows that trees can lower peak energy demand in urban areas by 20 to 40 percent and that three well-placed trees around a home can reduce its air conditioning needs by 10 to 50 percent.

The record's clear: We need trees economically and environmentally. We also need them to lift our minds and our hearts. Trees are something we all can plant, for while they can be fragile or sturdy, they are always precious. And the record shows that Indianapolis is not falling down on the job of planting trees, and neither will our administration.

That's why a key part of America the Beautiful is a national tree planting and forest improvement program to be administered by our Department of the Agriculture. This program involves both rural areas as well as urban tree planting programs in great cities like Indianapolis. And to fund it I have asked Congress for 5 million for fiscal year 1991 to plant 1 billion trees a year.

Two weeks ago I also asked Congress to approve another step to protect the environment. We call it the National Tree Trust Act of 1990. It will foster the partnership between the public and private sector to plant trees all across America. Under this plan, we will designate a nonprofit foundation to receive a one-time Federal grant to promote community tree planting and cultivation projects. It will also solicit contributions from private sources; sound a nationwide call for each American to protect the environment; and most of all, plant the trees that clean our air, prevent erosion, and purify our water.

In the same spirit of our Thousand Points of Light, the National Tree Trust Act will help toward a goal of creating 10 billion trees of life, and it will complement local programs to help conservation enrich America's quality of life, programs like your Trees for Tomorrow.

Talk about cooperation, Trees for Tomorrow links individuals, private groups, and your department of parks and recreation. In April alone, 3,000 trees will be donated. This urban forestry program will help volunteers show new volunteers not only how and where to plant trees but also how to care for them, why we need them, and how they will help our precious environment.

You know, 2 weeks ago I told an audience that I'd been planting so many trees all over the country that I might have to open a branch office. [Laughter] I tried it once before, and it got the same groan. [Laughter] This one is going out of the speech from now and evermore. [Laughter]

I can't think of a better spot than here in Indianapolis. Just as trees grow, with roots and branches becoming stronger and deeper by the year, your effort on behalf of trees can reach far into the future.

I began by talking about two exports: Dan Quayle and basketball. Let me close by referring to an event and then a movie close to Vice President Quayle's heart.

First, the event. Three years ago, after being reelected by a landslide, he was saluted on his 40th birthday in a way each of you will appreciate. Students planted 40 trees in his honor, one at I.U. Law School, 15 at his college alma mater, 24 at his high school. Those trees reaffirm the beauty of Indiana. They embody the kindness of you, his friends.

Second, the movie. It's called ``Hoosiers.'' You've seen it -- probably memorized it. It was filmed here in three nearby towns. Yes, it's about basketball, but it also portrays, unforgettably, the beauty of Indiana. The next time you see it, look for two things: kids and trees. They're everywhere in the film, and they make the movie very special, even magical. And so it is from Evansville in the south to the Michigan State line: trees -- many planted by kids -- enhancing the splendor of Indiana's cathedral of the outdoors.

So, let's help these youngsters plant more trees and nurture them in this State and in all 50 States. Let's plant the Trees for Tomorrow that will bless the children of tomorrow, the generations who will inherit our Earth. Trees are an inheritance passed from one generation to another, and they symbolize the continuity of mankind.

Not far from here there's a special young man who has created a special legacy of his own, and he is in our prayers today. His name is Ryan White, and he's been fighting a courageous battle against a deadly disease and also against ignorance and fear. Ryan has helped us understand the truth about AIDS, and he's shown all of us the strength and the bravery of the human heart. So, today, as together we plant this beautiful American elm, this symbol of new life, this first tree of your magnificent campaign, let it be Ryan's tree.

God bless that young man. God bless his family. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you all very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:07 p.m. at the Trees for Tomorrow Park. In his remarks, he referred to F. Arthur Strong, director of the City of Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation, and Bobby Knight, Indiana University basketball coach. Earlier, prior to leaving Cincinnati, the President met with Ken Blackwell, the Republican candidate for the First Congressional District. The President also visited Derrick Turnbow, an honor student at Taft High School who was the innocent victim of a drug-related shooting.