THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT, THE VICE PRESIDENT, SECRETARY OF INTERIOR BRUCE BABBITT, SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE MIKE ESPY, SECRETARY OF LABOR ROBERT REICH, SECRETARY OF COMMERCE RON BROWN, EPA ADMINISTRATOR CAROL BROWNER IN FOREST ANNOUNCEMENT
Old Executive Office Building
10:34 A.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Today, President Bill Clinton is demonstrating his commitment to the people, the communities, the economy and the environment of the Pacific Northwest and northern California with a balanced, comprehensive and innovative plan.
Where past administrations created confusion and controversy by ducking the tough decisions and allowing gridlock to remain in place, President Clinton is providing leadership and showing real courage by taking action. These are difficult, complex issues. We knew that from the beginning. But the President did not shy away from them. President Clinton recognized that for the future of the Northwest United States these issues had to be confronted boldly and resolved, so we can put the past behind us and move on to the future.
That's why the President brought hundreds of people together at the Forest Conference in Portland. That's why he has directed his administration to work together with him, benefitting from the advice and views of so many people from across the region, representing every possible perspective to carefully craft the plan that he will announce today in a few moments.
I'll let the President tell you about his plan. But before he does, I want to make sure that everyone here today and all those who share our commitment to resolving these issues in a fair and balanced way recognizes the change and progress that this plan represents. President Clinton's plan offers an innovative and comprehensive approach to forest management that combines real environmental protection with an all-out commitment to economic development and growth in a total package that concentrates on the economy of the Northwest.
A healthy forest economy demands healthy forests. And the President's plan ensures both. For the families and communities in the region, the President's plan offers significant new economic and job opportunities. For businesses and industry, it offers critical assistance to create jobs and grow, particularly in expanding industries like secondary wood manufacturing. And for the environment, it offers a valuable new perspective focused on protecting critical water supplies and the most valuable old-growth forests and allowing for new environmental research and experimentation and job-creating investments in ecological restoration.
This plan reflects the best work of scores of economists and scientists and experts from across the government and across the region, and a commitment to follow existing laws. It has benefitted greatly from the input of all those consulted -- members of Congress, representatives of business, industry, labor, environmental organizations, tribes, governors, state government officials, and local government. The Forest Conference brought all sides together in recognition of the need for action and an end to divisiveness and controversy.
That spirit of cooperation and commitment to the people, the economy and the environment of the region must continue now as we work together to replace the policies of the past with a plan for the future that offers critical assistance now. President Clinton is committed to that goal. That's why he has shown the courage and innovation in announcing this plan today.
It is now my pleasure and honor to introduce the President of the United States Bill Clinton. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, this issue has been one which has bedeviled the people of the Pacific Northwest for some years now. It has been one that has particularly moved me for two reasons: First of all, because so many people in that part of the country brought their concerns to me in the campaign on all sides of this issue -- the timber workers and companies, the environmentalists, the Native Americans, the people who live in those areas who just wanted to see the controversy so they could get on with their lives. And secondly, because I grew up in a place with a large timber industry and a vast amount of natural wilderness, including a large number of national forests. So I have a very close identity with all the forces at play in this great drama that has paralyzed the Pacific Northwest for too long.
We're announcing a plan today which we believe will strengthen the long-term economic and environmental health of the Pacific Northwest and northern California. The plan provides an innovative approach to forest management to protect the environment and to produce a predictable and sustainable level of timber sales. It offers a comprehensive, long-term plan for economic development. And it makes sure that federal agencies for a change will be working together for the good of all the people of the region.
The plan is a departure from the failed policies of the past, when as many as six different federal agencies took different positions on various interpretations of federal law and helped to create a situation in which, at length, no timber cutting at all could occur because of litigation, and still environmentalists believed that the long-term concerns of the environment were not being addressed.
The plan is more difficult than I had thought it would be in terms of the size of the timber cuts, in part because during this process the amount of timber actually in the forest and available for cutting was revised downward sharply, in no small measure because of years of overcutting, and in a way that provides an annual yield smaller than timber interests had wanted, and a plan without some of the protections that environmentalists had sought. I can only say that as with every other situation in life, we have to play the hand we were dealt. Had this crisis been dealt with years ago we might have a plan with a higher yield and with more environmentally protected areas. We are doing the best we can with the facts as they now exist in the Pacific Northwest.
I believe the plan is fair and balanced. I believe it will protect jobs and offer new job opportunities where they must be found. It will preserve the woodlands, the rivers, the streams that make the Northwest an attractive place to live and to visit. We believe in this case it is clear that the Pacific Northwest requires both a healthy economy and a healthy environment and that one cannot exist without the other.
I want to say a special word of thanks to the Vice President, to the Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, to Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, to Labor Secretary Reich, Commerce Secretary Brown, Environmental Protection Administrator Browner, Environmental Policy Director Katie McGinty, and many others in our administration who work together to bring all the forces of the federal government into agreement not because they all agreed on every issue at every moment, but because they knew that we owed the people of the Pacific Northwest at least a unified federal position that would break the logjam of the past several years.
This shows that people can work together and make tough choices if they have the will and courage to do so. Too often in the past the issues which this plan addressed have simply wound up in court while the economy, the environment and the people suffered. These issues are clearly difficult and divisive; you will see that in the response to the position that our administration has taken. If they were easy they would have been answered long ago. The main virtue of our plan besides being fair and balanced, is that we attempt to answer the questions and let people get on with their lives.
We could not, we could not permit more years of the status quo to continue where everything was paralyzed in the courts. We reached out to hundreds of people, from lumber workers and fishermen to environmentalists, scientists, businesspeople, community leaders and Native American tribes. We've worked hard to balance all their interests and to understand their concerns. We know that our solutions will not make everybody happy. Indeed, they may not make anybody happy. But we do understand that we're all going to be better off if we act on the plan and end the deadlock and divisiveness.
We started bringing people together at the Forest Conference in April. In the words of Archbishop Thomas Murphy then, we began to find common ground for the common good. As people reasoned together in a conference room instead of confronting each other in a courtroom, they found at least that they shared common values: work and family, faith and a reverence for the majestic beauty of the natural environment God has bequeathed to that gifted part of our nation.
This plan meets the standards that I set as the conference concluded. It meets the need for year-round, high-wage, high-skilled jobs and a sustained, predictable level of economic activity in the forests. It protects the long-term health of the forests, our wildlife and our waterways. It is clearly scientifically sound, ecologically credible, and legally defensible.
By preserving the forests and setting predictable and sustainable levels of timber sales, it protects jobs not just in the short term, but for years to come.
We offer new assistance to workers and to families for job training and retraining where that will inevitably be needed as a result of the sustainable yield level set in the plan; new assistance to businesses and industries to expand and create new family wage jobs for local workers; new assistance to communities to build the infrastructure to support new and diverse sources of economic growth; and new initiatives to create jobs by investing in research and restoration in the forests themselves. And we end the subsidies for log exports that end up exporting American jobs.
This plan offers an innovative approach to conservation, protecting key watersheds and the most valuable of our old-growth forests. It protects key rivers and streams while saving the most important groves of ancient trees and providing habitat for salmon and other endangered species. And it establishes new adapted management areas to develop new ways to achieve economic and ecological goals, and to help communities to shape their own future.
Today I am signing a bill sponsored by Senator Patty Murray and Congresswoman Jolene Unsoeld of Washington and supported by the entire Northwest congressional delegation to restore the ban of export of raw logs from state-owned lands and other publicly owned lands. This act alone will save thousands of jobs in the Northwest, including over 6,000 in Washington State alone.
Today, Secretary Babbitt and Secretary Espy are going to the Northwest to talk to state and local officials about how to implement the plan and give to workers, companies and communities the help they need and deserve. And soon we will deliver an environmental impact statement based on the plan to the federal district court in Washington State. We will do all we can to resolve the legal actions that have halted timber sales, and we will continue to work with all those who share our commitment to achieve these goals and move the sales forward.
Together, we can build a better future for the families of the Northwest, for their children and for their children's children. We can preserve the jobs in the forest and we can preserve the forest. The time has come to act to end the logjam, to end the endless delay and bickering and to restore some genuine security and rootedness to the lives of the people who have for too long been torn from pillar to post in this important area of the United States.
I believe this plan will do that, and this administration is committed to implementing it.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
SECRETARY BABBITT: Good morning. What the President has outlined and delivered today is the plan to manage the federallyowned forests in the Pacific Northwest. It's not a portion of a plan, it's not a piece of a plan, it is the plan.
Now, the option chosen by the President, Option Nine, is fundamentally sound. And the reason for that is that the President at the outset laid down two important criteria. The first was that the plan must be developed and the options must be worked out by the most competent broad-based group of scientists that we could possibly assemble from the Department of Agriculture, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Environmental Protection Agency, Oregon State University, the University of Washington. That scientific team has done its job and that is certainly the important, indispensable beginning point for this plan.
The President's second mandate, of course, was that any option presented to him for implementation must comply with existing law and it is my belief, shared by other members of the Cabinet, that the scientific team has put its stamp of approval on Option Nine and that it does and will in every respect comply with the law.
Now, from here on, we must begin the arduous important process of implementing Option Nine. And our instructions from the President are simply to move as quickly as we possibly can to get timber moving in the communities and into the mills. Now, there are still decisions to be made along the way about the exact methodology, about whether or not particular features of the plan can stand modification as we move toward implementation.
What Secretary Espy and myself will be doing, beginning today, is moving the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture out into the field to prepare sales, to implement sales that have been done. I'm confident that if we move quickly on that we can, by a conservative measure, certainly move 2 billion board feet from federal land into the communities and the mills of the Northwest during the coming year.
And I would only add that as Secretary Espy and I go to Portland and Seattle today, it's our intention simply to break the gridlock, to invite all of the different groups in the Pacific Northwest to sit down with us, not to debate the pros and cons of Option Nine, but to move ahead to get the timber moving into the mills, to see if we can't, together, find innovative ways, make procedural modifications and simply break the gridlock and, at last, restore some predictability and some certainty to the future of the Pacific Northwest.
SECRETARY ESPY: I'd just like to add my voice to others and try to add some perspective to this. Today the President is taking a bold and decisive step to move toward a resolution of the forest management crisis that really has paralyzed the Pacific Northwest. As Secretary of Agriculture, I agree with this plan. I think that it is fair, balanced, comprehensive, and it is certainly responsible.
Some will criticize the President for taking this move. To the contrary, I believe that he deserves praise for attempting to resolve an issue that no previous administration or Congress has been willing or able to bring to closure. So let us not forget what brought us here.
Under the Reagan administration, timber harvest in the region grew beyond sustainable levels. Timber cuts were absolutely pushed to the limit. And other nontimber resources suffered. Under President Bush, we just simply saw more of the same; attention only to the level of cut and inattention to the levels of consequence. Agencies, in response to the problem, acted independently, not cooperatively. Interior fought USDA, USDA fought EPA. We had no union whatsoever. And while lawsuits brought forestry to a halt, President Bush offered no direction and no plan to solve the issue. When communities in the region began to feel the effects of the court injunctions they asked for financial assistance to weather the storm. And, again, the Bush administration refused.
And so, today, we, clearly, are not turning away from this challenge. We're moving forward in a legally responsible and scientifically sound way to bring this matter to closure. And in doing so, we will not turn our back on the workers and the communities of the region who desperately seek leadership and a resolution to this crisis.
So I respectfully suggest that we view this President's plan in its proper context. This is not the end that some critics threaten, but a new beginning for the region. The economic future of the rural communities of the Pacific Northwest still rest upon its natural resources, but a sustainable economy must have as its basis policies that sustain those natural resources. This plan, the President's Forest Management Plan, provides that basis and the foundation for a strong and sustainable economy out in the Pacific Northwest.
And in conclusion, honestly we have three choices, by my view, three options. The first is simply to do nothing, to allow the forces out there to continue to challenge one another, and let the whole situation blow up and disintegrate. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that is not leadership.
The other option was simply to stand in a defiant swagger and to thumb our nose at a federal district court and perhaps to receive a contempt citation in the process. Well, that certainly is not responsible.
So we, in fact, took the third option, the only option, by our view. We're stepping up to the plate, we're taking our best swing. This is leadership, this is responsibility, and this is exactly what we're doing. Thanks. (Applause.)
SECRETARY REICH: I could stand here and not take any heat at all. (Laughter.) Let me just say that I want to echo what Secretary Babbitt and Secretary Espy have said, but also talk specifically about jobs. Over the last two years, 20,000 jobs, timber jobs have been lost in this region -- 20,000 jobs. That's going to end. This new plan is going to actually create net jobs. There will be some dislocations. Some people, some timber workers will continue to lose jobs, nowhere near as many as have been losing them before. But the plan calls for economic development, job training, new jobs. We're going to focus economic development assistance and also job training assistance on this area and help people get new jobs that pay family wages, good wages. Jobs in environmental remediation, jobs in higher value-added timber manufacturing. Many jobs are out there and potentially available to people in this area.
And, in fact, the direction we were going in -- donothing -- not only was it creating no jobs, in fact, destroying a lot of jobs -- 20,000 over two years -- but it was also potentially destroying a lot of other jobs -- jobs related to preserving that environment in the long-term. And, therefore, we are marking this as something of a beginning for the Northwest, hopefully, in terms of job-creation.
One thing we've tried to do again is focus all our agencies on this task. It has been difficult, we've overcome, I think, or at least partially overcome years and years of agencies figuring that they were doing it alone, that their own mission had nothing to do with any other agency mission. And through this process the whole, hopefully, is greater than the sum of the parts. We have job training, economic development. We have environmental remediation. We have agencies working together and focusing their attention on solving a problem.
Everybody's not going to be happy. In fact, everybody is going to be a little bit unhappy and that's what happens when you fight hard and work hard for a compromise. This is a compromise; this is the best compromise available. Any of the options, any of the options would have caused some job dislocation. This is the least job dislocation; it is the best in terms of new job net creation. And, therefore, we're very proud of where we're going.
The President deserves an awful lot of credit for his leadership, his ability to take this on. Remember, nothing was being done. This was absolute logjam. The President pulled us together, pulled his team together, said get on with it, let's solve this problem. And we're doing it.
Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY BROWN: I'm obviously pleased to join this morning with the President and Vice President in announcing a forest plan that truly exemplifies the principle of sustainable economic growth. By addressing long-term economic concerns and balancing broad environmental needs, the President has indeed created a plan that protects jobs and businesses, that furthers environmental goals and that enhances the economic diversity of the Pacific Northwest.
As the President's representative to lead the federal effort to help revitalize California's economy, I am particularly gratified that loggers and timber towns in Northern California will finally be free of the economic uncertainty that has haunted that region for too many years.
For too long the timber industry has been paralyzed by federal indecision while competing agencies supported contradictory policies and the White House dodged its responsibility. President Clinton has, in fact, acted decisively to end this grIdlock. The President's plan helps put people back to work by allowing significant timber sales which are already in the pipeline to go forward. New jobs will, in fact, be created through the expanded environmental restoration and research work provided for by the plan, by growing eco-tourism and by the job training partnership act. Funding for this program, which provides for job search assistance, retraining and relocation help, will more than double under the President's plan.
The President's program helps timber communities by eliminating tax breaks for raw log exporters and providing incentives for increased domestic processing. And it helps the timber industry by establishing sustainable harvest levels that will ensure long-term profitability. Companies will finally be able to hire and invest based on reliable forecasts and predictable harvest levels.
The President's plan establishes a harvest level that recognizes the critical importance of the region's timber industry. It opens areas to the selective, sustainable harvest that the industry, in fact, needs. And it creates stability and certainty, the cornerstone of any business planning that is going to be successful.
President Clinton's plan also takes into account the broader economic needs of the Pacific Northwest. While his innovative management approach protects the salmon and other environmentally sensitive industries better than before, the President has also provided funding that will speed economic diversification of the affected regions.
Economic adjustment funds, worker retraining support, infrastructure projects, even a summer jobs program will help lure industries to the area and help existing industries expand, diversify and, most importantly, put people back to work.
I strongly believe that the President's plan will ultimately result in a more robust economy in America's timber regions. By furthering both our long-term economic and environmental needs, the President has demonstrated once again strong leadership. This is the kind of bold response to changing economic circumstances the American people voted for last November. I'm pleased to be here with the President and Vice President and my fellow Cabinet members to support this courageous and this visionary strategy. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
ADMINISTRATOR BROWNER: Good morning. The President has just made an announcement that is a courageous step forward for environmentally sound forest management. Under the President's leadership, five agencies that have been suing each other and using their resources to fight each other in court have been able to come together to work on a plan and to put forward a plan that will really do right by the environmental system and the people of the Northwest.
At the heart of the policy that's being announced today, and what makes this approach so novel and important is the protection of watersheds. Watersheds are the critical environmental component. By protecting the watersheds, we are protecting rivers, streams, the viability of the old-growth forests and the species dependent upon these natural systems. And, most importantly, we will avoid future confrontation over individual species, like the salmon. By putting together a watershed protection plan, we will be able to avoid the haggling that has gone on for far too long.
The other thing that will occur because of the watershed protection focus is that cities may realize a real cost, real dollar savings. The city of Portland, who is, I think, looking at almost a $200-million bill for a filtration system on their drinking water system, may not have to spend that $200 million on filtration; they may be able to spend it on something else. Why? Because we're going to go upstream, we're going to make sure that the watershed is protected and that the quality of the water coming to the city is such that they don't have to filter it and spend that money.
The President has been able to see the forest, not just the trees. And we at EPA look forward to working with our colleagues across the federal government in the implementation of this milestone resolution. We are very pleased to have been part of all the discussions. We think it is a sound and important environmental step. And we will work our best to see it implemented in a way that is good for everybody. Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY BABBITT: Okay, if there are any questions we'll split them up and pass them around and see what we can do.
Q Secretary Babbitt, the 2 billion board feet that you were talking about I think would be triple or more of what has been -- while the injunction has been in place. Environmentalists say that's way beyond sustainability. Secondly, is there anything in the plan that would meet the environmentalists' concern about setting aside as permanent protective reserves sections of the forest that would be off limits to logging, including salvage, thinning and any other practice?
SECRETARY BABBITT: Well, with respect to the projection of 2 billion board feet during the coming year, I think it's worth remembering that what the scientific team has told us is that under the unified forest reserve, there should be a flow of about 12 billion board feet in a 10-year period, and that leaves a certain amount of flexibility with respect to how that's allocated.
There are a variety of other issues here that I think are going to give us some flexibility: a backlogged timber on Indian reservations, which has been brought to our attention by the Pacific Timber Council of Indian Tribes, and the backlog there is due to our inability to do the timber sale preparation; that's something we can take care of.
So I think there are a fair number -- obviously, there are some sales which are already in the pipeline, which would be the first ones that we can break loose. So I think it's a very realistic estimate. We've heard the concerns of the environmentalists with respect to the reserves. Again, the Unified Forest Plan lays out a basic pattern of reserves. It does allow some forest practices, particularly with respect to stands that are less than 120 years that are not mature stands. And I think at this point the important thing to say to the timber industry, the communities and the environmental groups we're prepared to talk about those things. The basic Unified Forest Plan is now in place, but that doesn't mean that we can't modify and perfect it as we go along.
Q Does the plan allow for higher volume of cutting in the first years of the 10-year period and then reduce, or is it basically stable at 1.2 billion board feet over the period?
SECRETARY BABBITT: The plan, on its face, speaks of a 10-year cut within the areas under the planning process of 12 billion board feet. It is our starting assumption that that should be spaced in a roughly consistent, sustainable pattern across the 10 years. There are a variety of issues outside the plan that I think make it possible to bump that figure up considerably, consistent with the plan in the immediate future.
Q The plan talks about watershed protection. Does that include buffers on streams and rivers and on private lands? And if so, how will you accomplish that?
SECRETARY BABBITT: The important feature of the Unified Forest Reserve Plan that distinguishes it from some of the other alternatives that were considered is that the process of constructing the plan began with stream protection, with buffers laid over the entire stream system on federal lands. The width of those buffers varies by three criteria: whether or not the streams have salmon in them or other fish, steelhead or others, at this time, or whether or not they're permanent streams, somewhat less protection for intermittent streams. So it is a very comprehensive process.
With respect to private lands, which I know is of particular interest in Washington, I think there's some good news in this forest plan because it will allow us for the most part to lift the owl circles on the private lands -- not everywhere, but I think in some large measure. So the private landowners will have a great deal of flexibility and benefit from this plan.
Those issues will be worked out, according to what's known as a 4D rule under the Endangered Species Act. But I think the plan legitimately seeks to provide as much freedom as is consistent with the overall legal objectives on private lands.
Q Will there be buffers on private lands or around streams?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We're still talking about that.
SECRETARY BABBITT: The answer is, we're going to sit down in Seattle and Portland and discuss it.
Q Mr. Secretary, are you going to ask Judge Dwyer to lift the injunction immediately in July, or will that not happen until the end of the year?
SECRETARY BABBITT: No, no, we will proceed on expedited track of a draft report and ask the judge to lift the injunction.
Q Based on a draft environmental impact statement?
SECRETARY BABBITT: Absolutely.
Q Other than the bill that President Clinton said he was going to sign -- will any other parts of this plan proceed legislatively?
SECRETARY BABBITT: Well, I think that the economic package, which Secretary Reich can discuss to the extent you want to follow it up, certainly presupposes some congressional action. I think that's very likely.
Q If I may follow. But aside from funding, you're not asking Congress for anything and will go ahead with or without their blessing? You don't want fast track authority or anything like that?
SECRETARY BABBITT: There are two separate issues here. One is the plan itself. Now, you've heard very clearly from the President his intention to direct the departments to prepare that plan and submit it administratively back into the judicial process. That reflects our view that that is the most expeditious, fastest, direct route to getting timber flowing into the mills.
Now, with respect to the procedural issues, that is how do we expedite the process of getting from here to there - I think that is something we want to sit down and begin discussing with all the parties -- the parties to the litigation, the interested parties in the Pacific Northwest and all the others. I'm certain that as of today what we're going to begin is to push the administrative process. Now, whether or not that is sufficient I think is something that we're going to need to discuss and watch among all the parties.
SECRETARY BROWN: Let me just mention one thing. We haven't spent a lot of time talking about the economic impacts of this, and it seems to me one of the most important things that we've accomplished here is really encouraging economic diversification and economic adjustment and economic growth. That is one of the key points of the plan and strategy, as well as all of what we consider to be courageous substantive decisions that were made.
I think that this process sets an important example for how this administration intends to work together and pull together. For years, there's been nothing but conflict between agencies of the federal government pulling in opposite directions, not working as part of a team. And here we've taken a very, very complex problem with extraordinary leadership from the President of the United States, and all of us who have been perceived of in the past as representing different kinds of interests in America -- Bob Reich, the workers of America and the Secretary of Commerce, business and industry, and Secretary Babbitt and Administrator Browner, other kinds of interests that were seemed disparate -- are working together and are making it come out right; are sitting down and talking and coming up with a rational plan, a rational approach to solve a difficult problem.
I think we're as proud of this -- and the President is -- of the process by which we pulled together as a team as we are with the very sound kind of substantive judgments that have come out of the plan.
Q Given the thousands of jobs that are being lost, would the administration support a ban or tax on private log exports?
SECRETARY BABBITT: Well, the President has addressed that issue with specific proposals to remove the subsidies which currently operate to unbalance that decision in favor of log exports. So at this time, the President's position with respect to private log exports is we need to simply level the playing field.
Q Does the administration know yet where the money is going to come from for assistance to the Northwest?
SECRETARY BABBITT: The great majority of the billion and a half approximate over five years will consist of money which is already programmed in the 1994 budget process. Another piece of it will be reprogramming within our budgets and I think there may well be some additional on top of that.
SECRETARY BROWN: A good deal of it is going to come from the Economic Development Administration, the Commerce Department, through the use of media grants. The purpose of those grants are to assist distressed urban and rural communities in economic recovery, and we intend to direct and target those grants in that way to be helpful to the region that is affected.
MS. ROMASH: There will be a technical briefing after this and people will be available to walk through specifically where the money comes from and the numbers and all that.
SECRETARY BABBITT: What she's really saying is pull us off before we get into deep water. (Laughter.)
Q Secretary Babbitt, you're going to be in Portland later this afternoon. You're probably going to run into some people from some of the timber towns. You're probably going to run into some angry people from some of the timber towns there. What are you going to tell them to expect and what are you going to tell them about the disruptions that they're going to have? They're angry over these proposals here.
SECRETARY BABBITT: What I intend to say in the timber towns of Oregon and Washington is we're going to provide some certainty, we're going to lift the injunctions, you're going to have a predictable supply of timber, and we're looking at a timber year coming up I think conservatively of 2 billion board feet. Now, compared to what's gone on in the last few years, I think that's a strong and positive direction.
We're going to sit down with those towns and discuss the implications of the adapted management areas that are in the Unified Forest Plan. I will remind the towns that the President's proposal says that within the adapted management areas all logs must go to local communities. And I think there are a variety of other issues in this plan that are going to provide an unexpected amount of hope, flexibility, wood earmarked for local mills and local industries that don't necessarily appear in the gross figures that come out at the very end of the plan. I think the detail in this case is very important.
Thank you very much. Let's take one more. Why quit while you're ahead? (Laughter.) Let me take another one.
Q Secretary Babbitt, despite the turnout of congressional leaders here today, there were very few representatives from the Pacific Northwest, including House Speaker Tom Foley. Does that create problems for you? They are not particularly fond of the plan at all.
SECRETARY BABBITT: Well, I certainly understand that and I have had several extensive discussions with the Speaker, listening to his concerns. They're deep, they're heartfelt, they're thoughtful. What I have said to the delegation members and especially to the Speaker is that as we move forward with this plan, which the Cabinet members and the President feel is the best pathway toward getting injunctions lifted and moving back toward some kind of normalcy. We remain willing to listen to new information, to look at the procedural aspects of this, to consider to continue to develop the adapted management concept, to get back to the backlogs on Indian reservations, to tailor the economic assistance.
And, ultimately, I suspect it's inevitable that the Speaker and others will express their desire to reexamine the statutes, and there are many of them, governing these processes. And, of course, that is their prerogative and I'm sure that during the coming years we'll be discussing that. In the meantime, what we have to do is end the impasse. And I think that in the next few years we're going to get a really good result with a really substantial amount of timber flowing in and that's the very best course of action at this point.
Thank you very much.
END11:14 A.M. EDT