George W. Bush photo

Remarks During a Trail Tour and an Exchange With Reporters in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

August 14, 2001

The President. One of the things it's important for people to understand, that through good management of our forests we can prevent forest fires. I appreciate Secretary Norton's work on this. I want to thank you all for helping show America that we can do a better job of maintaining our natural resources.

We can thin these out and make them less prone to fire, and that's what we're going to see happen right now. I appreciate you giving me a chance to come by.

Park Superintendent A. Durand Jones. And we're very proud of your support for the national parks.

The President. I'm a big supporter. We've got $5 billion—nearly $5 billion in the budget for 5 years to make sure these parks are accessible to all Americans. Fran is in charge of the National Park System. She is very smart and capable.

National Park Service Director Frances P. Mainella. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Otherwise, you wouldn't have been named. [Laughter]

Director Mainella. Thank you. I knew that. [Laughter]

The President. But we're excited to be here. This is a beautiful part of the world. I'm not only going to talk about how to make sure we maintain our parks in a smart, capable way, like you're doing, but I'm also going to talk about the need to teach our children good lessons of character. And one way—and there's no better place to do this—I want to thank the Y for inviting me here to herald a program. All kinds of communities have character around the country, and this is a unique community of character. When I was a kid growing up, a lot of my buddies used to come up to Estes Park from Houston, Texas. I guess you've had families coming since 1909.

Superintendent Jones. Yes. And Texas still has a large membership here with us; we get a lot of Texans. We love them.

The President. That's good.

Superintendent Jones. In fact, after Colorado, Texas——

The President. I've never been here.

Q. To Estes Park?

The President. Never have, no. I can see why a lot of people come, though; it's beautiful.

Q. We can come more often, sir.

The President. See, he's been in Crawford, Texas. [Laughter] I'm not saying he's the biggest griper about the choice of where I go to work in the summer. He'll like it—get used to it. [Laughter]

Director Mainella. Do you know that you're the first President in almost 70 years to be here at Rocky Mountain National Park?

The President. I did not know that, Fran, thank you.

Director Mainella. And we really appreciate that. And it's really a statement of your commitment to our National Park System.

The President. I am a big believer in the Park System. We've got a lot of maintenance backlog, and we've got to take care of it. I know Fran has been doing—Gale, we're going to make a strong commitment to our parks. It's a really important part of the American scene.

Director Mainella. Thank you.

The President. And again, I want to emphasize the fact that through good forest management we can do a better job of containing fire. And I know there are some in our country that want to just, you know, let the forests fall apart. We're not going to let that happen in this administration. We're going to maintain them, and we're going to make sure that, if there is a fire, it does as little damage as possible.

You're going to see a part of the strategy right here. Gale was with the western Governors this past week, and we've come up with a very good strategy. It enforces— reinforces our commitment to working with the States and the local jurisdictions to make sure we've got sound, smart environmental policy. Not all the wisdom in the world is in Washington, DC. [Laughter]

Some in Washington think that, but not this administration. We trust the local folks, and our Federal Government is going to pledge to stand side by side with local folks. This is a collaborative effort here we're going to see between the private sector and the public Park System to maintain these forests in a good, sensible way.

So, Jesse, let's get to work.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:10 p.m. In his remarks, he referred to Jesse Duhnkrack, fire management officer, Rocky Mountain National Park. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

George W. Bush, Remarks During a Trail Tour and an Exchange With Reporters in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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