Our forests are one of our most vital assets. They contain more than half the commercial timber of the West. They provide recreation for millions. They are the major source of water for more than 1,600 cities and towns. They supply water for more than 600 hydroelectric projects. They are necessary to the control of destructive floods. Their proper management would provide jobs for 6 million Americans and repay every dollar of investment.
The administration has requested less than 50 percent of the amount needed to make useful this most important national asset. We must reverse this failure. We must restore our woodlands as a source of strength for the Nation's future.
We must develop a plan of action for soil and water conservation on farms to make up for the lost opportunities of the last 8 years and launch again a hard-driving soil water, and wildlife conservation program for agriculture. Many farmers have made progress in applying soil and water conservation plans to their land, but only about one-fourth of the total needed soil and conservation work has been completed. About three-fourths is still to be done. This gap needs to be closed. Technical assistance, cost sharing, and conservation credit must be geared to help farmers speed up their progress.
The small watersheds program merits vast expansion. There are some 8,000 communities with watershed problems that need project- type action. Some 1,300 communities have already requested help. Only two out of five of these are receiving planning help. Four out of five are still waiting to begin watershed operations. This is a serious lag that must be overcome.
PARKS AND SHORELINES
Our national parks are overtaxed by visitors. There is a growing demand for public access to shores as commercial developments eat away mile after mile of ocean, lake, gulf, and even river fronts. The Nation should set aside shoreline recreational areas and develop them for public use, as well as encourage the States and local communities to establish public shores. Mission 66 in the national parks should be speeded up to schedule, and our park system made adequate to meet the needs of our citizens.
YOUTH CONSERVATION CORPS
I support the Senate bill to enlist a vast army of American youth - a Youth Conservation Corps - in the service of developing our resources. Under this measure 100,000 young men, between the ages of 18 and 25, could be brought into a national conservation corps. It would be the job of this corps to work to preserve our forests, stock our lakes and rivers, clear our streams and protect America's abundance of natural resources.
We must step up the fight against water pollution. We must stimulate construction of needed sewage treatment plants and prevent further spread of water pollution. Our goal must be the fullest utilization of every drop and gallon of water in every river system in America.
The Federal Government, along with State and local governments and private interests, has a responsibility to meet the mounting recreational needs of the people of America, including millions of hunters and fishermen. We cannot afford to delay the provision of adequate recreational opportunities.
Establishing a system of wilderness areas in the United States need not await a Commission report. The Democratic platform position in this respect must be implemented.
We need to be pursuing land-acquisition policies in connection with new reservoirs which will make the most of the recreational values, including production of fish in the lakes and wildlife on their perimeter. Research into fish management in the new reservoirs is needed to maximize benefits from them.
FISH AND WILDLIFE
Wildlife refuges and ranges must be protected to serve the purposes to which they are dedicated without interference by commercial exploitation. Duck stamp funds should not be diverted from the purposes of the act, or the refuges misused which have been acquired with earmarked funds.