REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT CONSERVATION CONFERENCE
A good read. He uses a Leopold quote that surprised many "Aldo" scholars.
Several people remarked to me that it is one they have never heard, and as
you know, in this community, that's kind of hard to do.
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 2, 2012
Department of Interior
5:32 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.)
Thank you so much. Everybody, have a seat. Have a seat.
(Applause.) Well, it is good to have all of you in here. Welcome to
I want to thank Ken Salazar for the introduction. Did everybody know
that it's his birthday today? (Laughter.) All right -- has he
milked that enough? (Laughter.) I just want to make sure everybody
wished him a happy birthday. Turning 40 is tough. (Laughter.)
We’ve also got our outstanding Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack,
in the house. (Applause.) Our wonderful EPA Administrator, Lisa
Jackson, is with us. (Applause.) And I want to thank all of you for
being a part of this conference.
Now, I have to say that this is a pretty diverse group here today.
We’ve got hunters and fishermen; we've got farmers and ranchers;
we've got conservationists; we've got small business owners; we've
got local government leaders; we've got tribal leaders. And some of
you may have just wandered in -- I don't know. (Laughter.) But
you’re all here for the same reason. Each of you has a deep
appreciation for the incredible natural resources, the incredible
bounty that we’ve been blessed with as a nation. And you’re working
hard every day to make sure those resources are around for my
daughters and your children and hopefully their children to enjoy.
Doing that takes creativity. The great Aldo Leopold once said that
conservation is "a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely
a negative exercise of abstinence and caution." It's not just about
doing nothing; it's about doing something affirmative to make sure
that we are passing on this incredible blessing that we have. And
you also know that effective conservation is about more than just
protecting our environment -- it’s about strengthening our economy.
When we put in place new common-sense rules to reduce air pollution,
like we did in December, it was to prevent our kids from breathing in
dangerous chemicals. That's something we should all be able to agree
on. But it will also create new jobs, building and installing all
sorts of pollution control technology. And since it will prevent
thousands of heart attacks and cases of childhood asthma, it will
also take some strain off our health care system.
When we make a commitment to restore a million acres of grasslands
and wetlands and wildlife habitat -- like the Department of
Agriculture and Interior did today -- we’re not just preserving our
land and water for the next generation. We’re also making more land
available for hunting and fishing. And we’re bolstering an outdoor
economy that supports more than 9 million jobs and brings in more
than a trillion dollars a year. (Applause.)
And when we make it easier to visit this country -- like we've done
recently at accelerating the process for foreign travelers to get
visas -- we’re not just boosting tourism in big cities and places
like Disney World. We’re helping more people discover our parks and
our mountains and our beaches. And more visitors means more people
renting cars and staying in hotels and eating at our restaurants and
buying our equipment.
So the work you’re doing today is important if we’re going to grow
our economy and put more people back to work. But conservation is
also important when it comes to another issue that I’ve been talking
about lately, and that's developing new sources of American-made
Obviously, gas prices are on a lot of folks’ minds right now. And
we’re getting another painful reminder of why developing new energy
is so important for our future. Of course, because it’s an election
year, everybody is trotting out their 3-point plans for $2.00 gas.
And you know what that involves, is you drill and then you drill and
then you drill some more. We’ve heard this for 30 years.
The American people know better. They understand we can’t just drill
our way out of high gas prices. We’re doing everything we can to
boost U.S. production. But if we’re going to take control of our
energy future and avoid these gas price spikes in the future, then
we’ve got to have a sustained, all-of-the-above strategy that
develops every available source of American energy -– yes, oil and
gas, but also wind and solar and biofuels, and more.
And we’re making progress on this front. In 2010, our dependence on
foreign oil was under 50 percent for the first time in 13 years.
(Applause.) Because of the investments we’ve made, the use of clean,
renewable energy in this country has nearly doubled. (Applause.)
And in my State of the Union address, I announced that we’re allowing
the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3
million homes -– 3 million homes. That protects our environment and
it helps families and businesses save money.
But while it’s important to use public lands to develop things like
wind and solar energy, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,
we’ve also got to focus on protecting our planet.
That’s why Teddy Roosevelt made sure that as we build this country
and harvest its bounty, we also protect its beauty.
That’s part of our national character. And historically, it’s been
That’s why, even as our country grew by leaps and bounds, we made
sure to set aside places like the Grand Canyon for our children and
our grandchildren. It’s why my administration has stood up to
protect its waters. That’s why President Kennedy directed a portion
of the revenues from oil and gas production to help communities build
trails and ball fields –- and why my administration has fought to
protect the Land and Water Conservation Fund. (Applause.)
That’s why the hunters and anglers in this country have always been
willing to pay a few extra bucks for a fishing license or a duck
stamp that helps protect streams and habitats -- because they want
to make sure that their grandkids can enjoy these same pastimes.
That’s why my administration is expanding access to public lands so
that more Americans can cast a rod or teach their children how to
We have to keep investing in the technology and manufacturing that
helps us lead the world, but we’ve also got to protect the places
that help define who we are, that help shape our character and our
soul as a nation. Places that help attract visitors and create jobs,
but that also give something to our kids that is irreplaceable.
And all of us have a role to play. One of the first bills I signed
after taking office was the Public Lands bill that protected more
than a thousand miles of rivers and established new national parks
and trails. (Applause.) And two years ago, thanks to some great
work by my Cabinet, and Ken Salazar especially, I kicked off the
America’s Great Outdoors initiative to support conservation projects
happening in all 50 states, including Fort Monroe in Virginia, which
just became America’s 396th national park. (Applause.)
Right now, we’re restoring the River of Grass in the Everglades,
providing clean water to millions of residents -- (applause) --
creating thousands of jobs -- construction jobs -- in southern
We need to keep moving forward on projects like these. And I know
we’ve got ranchers and farmers and landowners here today who
represent places like the Crown of the Continent in Montana, the
Dakota Grasslands, and everywhere in between. We need to keep
working to protect these incredible landscapes that all of you know
The bottom line is this: There will always be people in this country
who say we’ve got to choose between clean air and clean water and a
growing economy, between doing right by our environment and putting
people back to work. And I’m here to tell you that is a false
choice. (Applause.) That is a false choice. (Applause.) With
smart, sustainable policies, we can grow our economy today and
protect our environment for ourselves and our children.
We know it’s possible. And we know it because of what’s been
happening in communities like yours, where compromise isn’t a dirty
word, where folks can recognize a good idea no matter where it comes
A while back, I heard a story about the Rogue River in Oregon. Every
year, the Rogue is filled with salmon swimming upstream to spawn.
But because factories were allowed to -- allowing warm water to run
back into the river, the temperature was becoming too high for the
salmon to survive. So to fix the problem, the town could have
required the company to buy expensive cooling equipment, but that
would have hurt the local economy. Instead, they decided to pay
farmers and ranchers to plant trees along the banks of the river, and
that helped to cool the water at a fraction of the cost. So it
worked for business; it worked for farmers; it worked for salmon.
And those are the kinds of ideas that we need in this country -–
ideas that preserve our environment, protect our bottom line, and
connect more Americans to the great outdoors.
And this is personally important to me. Some of you know that I grew
up in Hawaii mostly, and we got some pretty nice outdoors in Hawaii.
(Laughter.) And you spend a lot of time outdoors, and you learn very
early on to appreciate this incredible splendor. But I remember when
I was 11, I had never been to the mainland, and my grandmother and my
mother and my sister, who at the time was two, decided we were going
to take a big summer trip. And we traveled across the country. And
mostly we took Greyhound buses. My grandmother was getting -- she
had some eye problems, and so she couldn’t see that well, so she was
a little nervous about driving long distances. Sometimes we took the
train. And we went to the usual spots -- Disneyland. I was 11,
But I still remember traveling up to Yellowstone, and coming over a
hill, and suddenly just hundreds of deer and seeing bison for the
first time, and seeing Old Faithful. And I remember that trip giving
me a sense of just how immense and how grand this country was, and
how diverse it was -- and watching folks digging for clams in Puget
Sound, and watching ranchers, and seeing our first Americans guide me
through a canyon in Arizona. And it gave you a sense of just what it
is that makes America special.
And so when I went back to Yellowstone, with Ken and my daughters --
that was the first time they had been -- and I'm standing there --
I'm thinking not only about them and the first time they're seeing
this, but I'm also remembering back to when my grandmother and my
mother had shown me this amazing country so many years before.
And that is part of what we have to fight for. That's what's
critical, is making sure that we're always there to bequeath that
gift to the next generation. (Applause.) And if you'll work with
me, I promise I'll do everything I can -- (applause) -- I'll do
everything I can to help protect our economy but also protect this
amazing planet that we love and this great country that we've been
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless
END 5:46 P.M. EST