THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Thursday, July 30, 1998
BRINGING COMMUNITIES TOGETHER
Who are we, such brief visitors on this Earth, to spoil the rivers and other treasures that were here so long before we arrived? We must work together, as this community has done for generations, to preserve all these sacred gifts for all time.
President Bill Clinton
July 30, 1998
Today, President Clinton and Vice President Gore travel to the New River in North Carolina to designate 14 American Heritage Rivers. Communities along these rivers will receive federal support over the next five years to carry out their plans for revitalizing their rivers and riverfronts. This initiative reflects the Administration's strong commitment to building partnerships that promote prosperity while protecting our environment.
Preserving Natural Resources. More than 3 million miles of rivers and streams flow across America, nourishing our soil, carrying our commerce, and sustaining our wildlife. The American Heritage Rivers initiative, announced by the President in his 1997 State of the Union address, recognizes and rewards voluntary community-based efforts to restore and protect the environmental, economic, cultural, and historic values of our rivers. It encourages communities to come together around their rivers and develop strategies to preserve them for future generations.
An Outpouring Of Grassroots Support. Following the President's call for nominations, the Administration received 126 applications from communities in 46 states and the District of Columbia asking that their rivers be designated an American Heritage River. Each included a detailed action plan describing the communities' vision for protecting natural resources, promoting economic revitalization, and preserving cultural heritage. Twenty-one governors, more than 200 members of Congress, and 500 mayors, wrote in support of the Initiative.
Helping Communities Restore And Protect Their Rivers . For each American Heritage River, a federal employee will be named as a "river navigator" to help communities identify existing federal programs and resources that can help in carrying out their plans. The "river navigator," selected in consultation with the community, will be in place within three to six months and will serve for up to five years. Federal assistance, including economic development or pollution cleanup funds will only be provided at a community's request.
A Cross-Section Of America's Rivers. The rivers designated by the President, on the recommendation of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative Advisory Committee, reflect the extraordinary diversity and splendor of America's rivers. Some flow through pristine forest, others the inner city. Although some have been largely restored, there are still those that remain heavily polluted. Although some designations cover the entire length of a single river, others include more than one river or cover only stretches of a river.
Calling On Congress To Support Progress Toward A Cleaner Environment. For nearly three decades, America has made progress in cleaning up our communities, air, and water. President Clinton is calling on Congress to:
- Fully fund the President's Clean Water Action Plan, so waters that are still too polluted for fishing and swimming can be cleaned up;
- Release funds to protect 100 natural and historic sites in 35 states;
- Invest in a common-sense strategy to reduce pollution that contributes to global warming;
- Withdraw legislative "riders" that would cripple wildlife protection, deny taxpayers a fair return from oil leasing on public lands, and roll back other environmental protections.