Public Papers

Statement on Signing the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Act of 1992


I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 1435, the ``Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Act of 1992.'' This Act provides for the future establishment of a national wildlife refuge at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal immediately outside of Denver, Colorado. The refuge will be a unique addition to the National Wildlife Refuge System, for both the natural resources it supports and the fish and wildlife-related public uses it provides for Denver residents and all Americans.

The 26 square miles of land at the Arsenal have provided valuable wildlife habitat for many species since the Arsenal was established in 1942. Despite some of the land being contaminated by military and industrial use, the Arsenal continues to host wildlife populations rarely found in such proximity to a major urban area.

A significant population of endangered bald eagles, averaging nearly 100 birds, winters there, along with an extraordinarily high number of hawks. Extensive prairie dog towns cover over 5,000 acres at the Arsenal, and deer, coyotes, burrowing owls, migratory waterfowl, and other species are readily observable.

An essential objective of this Administration is to develop increased opportunities for urban populations to learn about wildlife and the environment. Approximately 50,000 visitors have toured the Arsenal in the past 2 years to view its wildlife and learn about the ongoing contaminant cleanup. Once the refuge is established, the site will educate and enthrall thousands more.

We have done an outstanding job to date of implementing the remediation process at the Arsenal while preserving its wildlife. This legislation, the result of close and bipartisan cooperation between the Administration and members of the Colorado congressional delegation, builds on that effort.

The Act ensures that the ongoing Superfund cleanup process will fully protect humans and the environment and will not be altered by the ultimate designation of the area as a wildlife refuge. Once the Environmental Protection Agency certifies that the remediation process is complete, the Arsenal will officially become the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.

The Act also acknowledges the need to coordinate management of the refuge with the operation of the nearby Denver International Airport, which will open next year.

The very idea of converting the Rocky Mountain Arsenal into a national wildlife refuge would have been inconceivable a few years ago. Our success in doing so demonstrates that, when we focus on opportunities rather than problems, we can match the resilience of nature with human ingenuity. In signing H.R. 1435, I applaud this approach to resolving the Nation's environmental problems and urge its application to other challenges that confront us.

George Bush

The White House,

October 9, 1992.

Note: H.R. 1435, approved October 9, was assigned Public Law No. 102 - 402.