Public Papers

Remarks to the Take Pride in America Volunteers


Let me first salute Derrick Crandall, who had a lot to do with this event and who does so much for the great outdoors, not just here but all across -- whoops, look at this gigantic thing -- [laughter] -- all across the country. But I really wanted to thank the volunteers from the Recreation Coalition, members of the Recreation Roundtable for the good work you do for public lands all across our wonderful country. And I was pleased earlier to see the former Governor, Mike Hayden, Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks; my old friend, John Turner, son of Wyoming here, Director of our Fish and Wildlife Service; Jim Ridenour, the Director of the National Park Service; and Bob Stanton, who's the Parks Director of the National Capital Region; and then all the other parks and officials here with us today. A very special greeting to Pervis -- where did he go? You can't miss him. But there he is way back there -- who does so much with the Bullets, but does so much to help the kids. And a special hello to all of you.

Let me just tell some of you kids that 70 million Americans enjoy fishing every year. And I understand that some of you were out on the river, I hope you were, trying out this sport. Of course, I didn't show up too well on the casting, but that's an important part of it and a fun part of it out there. But we have this Pathway to Fishing program that I think is a very good one.

Many of you from the Recreation Coalition were with Barbara and me when we visited some of this country's greatest fishing holes, camping sites, and hiking trails as well. We were out at Mount Rushmore, Glacier National Park, the Grand Tetons. And I hope every kid here gets a chance one day to see some of those great spots in the West. We have many other beautiful parklands across the country.

But we've got to remember that the great outdoors -- and one of the things that's symbolic about this event is that the great outdoors isn't miles away and unreachable, it's close to home. And here we are in this great park right here in Anacostia. So whether you're from right here in DC or from Spirit Lake, Iowa, the great outdoors is yours for the asking, and each of you is a coowner. As coowners you've got to preserve our great parklands, keep them clean.

Since the beginning of our administration, we've added over billion to help our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands. In this effort to preserve our environment, public-private partnerships are so important, and they help us all do our part. Practically every day, people sit and fish on the river dock just behind me, one funded by what Derrick talked about, that Wallop-Breaux Trust Fund, a program that was started in 1984 to bring together the efforts of both the fishing and the boating industries. I think he was quite generous about that, but I did have a small role in its creation and am prouder still that this year we're providing more than 0 million for this fund to aid the fishing and boating improvements. Last year we had a fight; Congress, I think, wanted to cut the Wallop-Breaux in the appropriations process. But we just can't let that happen.

Then there's our Scenic Byways program, a 6-year effort to improve some of our Nation's most traveled highways, not just the highways that you've got all across the country but roads that wind through the hearts of our cities. And we call them ribbons of green, the roads America loves. Here in Washington, our Scenic Byways program beautifies roads like the George Washington Parkway and Rock Creek Parkway. We're also helping to support the creation of greenways, those combinations of bicycles and hiking paths that are springing up throughout our cities and countrysides.

Then there are programs like the one that this banner celebrates, Take Pride in America, a program that generates tens of millions of volunteer hours each year from communities all across the country, people coming together to preserve the parks and public lands within their communities, picking up litter, planting trees, and building playgrounds for these kids.

Right now one of our public land initiatives is receiving favorable attention in Congress, the America the Beautiful Passport. This replaces that old wallet card style with a passport that would include such things as park information, helpful phone numbers, motor decal, and many, many more things. And the best part, sales proceeds could generate up to million in additional revenue which would then go to fund other recreation and wildlife projects.

So as we enter summertime, and I know the kids here are counting the days until school gets out, we'll see more kids enjoy the benefits of this cleanup project today. We'll see them running off to this park, playing around on the new playground, casting the fishing lines the way John and Tom and other fishing experts taught them and shooting a few hoops the way Pervis told them to do, and learning from him and learning from the volunteers how important it is for one citizen to help another.

It's not just a kid's life, though, I'm talking about. The outdoors is a perfect playground for the entire family and this country's greatest natural resource. This summer can also be a time for lots of families, for whole communities to come together.

We all saw what happened out there in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, a community that was divided and torn apart and then turning on itself in despair. Already the communities within that south central L.A. are coming together. They're rebuilding; they're renewing. They're leaving the war zones behind to embrace the heart of what makes Los Angeles such a special place.

Beyond our urgent emergency aid, we've got to take action to bring hope and opportunity to Los Angeles. I don't want to go into a lot of detail here, but I met with the leaders of both sides of the aisle. We're trying to get nonpartisan or bipartisan approaches to solve the problems. We've put out a six-point program that included a ``Weed and Seed,'' weed out the drugs, seed the neighborhoods with hope; our homeownership initiative; enterprise zones that bring businesses into these communities that are hard hit, these cities; education reform; welfare reform; and then a strong jobs program. These six points, we're going to keep pressing for them, and I think they'll bring immediate relief to some of our cities. And I think it's a wonderful thing, if we're successful in them, to what it can mean for the lives of some of the kids right here today.

So, we've got to come together. We've got to rebuild the hearts of our Nation's cities, and we've got to renew that spirit of community. So I am just delighted to be here, very appreciative, once again, of the volunteers, those who live by that feeling one American must help another, hold out the helping hand to another. And the volunteers do it, and the result of that is cleaner and better parks, more and more hope and opportunity for the young people.

So thank you very, very much for what you're doing. It's a pleasure to be out here. I have only one regret, and that is that I can't stay out here all afternoon to do a little better in the fishing-casting tournament out there and to get to see you kids enjoy this lovely park. Thank you all very much for being with us. And again, my thanks to all the volunteers.

Note: The President spoke at 1:22 p.m. in Anacostia Park. In his remarks, he referred to Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition; Pervis Ellison, Washington Bullets basketball player; and Thomas Bedell, president of Berkeley, Inc.