THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT IN TELEPHONE CONVERSATION WITH GOVERNORS
1:12 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (in progress) -- Mayor Paul Schell of Seattle, King County Executive Ron Simms, and Congressman Norm Dicks. And before I proceed with just a couple more words and present the President, we all want to express our best wishes to Mona, Governor Locke, and we're getting good reports that everything is fine, but let her know that she is in our thoughts and prayers, you and your whole family are.
GOVERNOR LOCKE: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Vice President. This is Gary Locke, and Mona is actually sitting next to me and I'll extend your warm greetings to her.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, and give our warm greetings to Emily, also -- I know she's getting pretty excited about being a big sister.
Now, last September I had the honor of presiding over a pretty remarkable conference in Seattle. It was outdoors in a spectacular setting. And what was even more spectacular was the sense of commitment and the quality of leadership brought to the table by the public and private representatives from all throughout the region. This is such a blessing to have this kind of leadership -- including from all the local communities -- and to talk about ways to work together to restore this vital resource.
And I think everybody who attended that session was struck by the remarkable grass-roots support for this important effort and by the growing collaboration among the states, counties, cities and tribes, as well as the business and environmental community.
George Frampton, the head of the President's Council on Environmental Quality, has helped us to build upon that partnership and coordinate this proposal. And as all of you know, President Clinton and I are committed heart and soul to helping the Northwest restore its precious heritage. And the President is going to announce an important new initiative to accelerate this effort. And it's my honor to work with him and to now turn this over to President Bill Clinton.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. And I want to say to all of you on the phone and, obviously, our friends from Washington here in the Oval Office, that I am very, very grateful to all of you and to others in your states and in the tribes who have made a priority of preserving the salmon. And I'm grateful to you for making sure that, as those of us who do not hail from the Pacific Northwest understood the gravity and the urgency of the issue.
We want to help you bring the salmon back. And the Vice President and I today are announcing as a part of my fiscal year 2000 budget, a new $100 million fund to help states and tribes restore coastal salmon. The funds can be used up and down coastal rivers and streams to rebuild habitat, restore spawning grounds, give salmon a new lease on life. And if we work together, I'm sure that we can succeed in restoring this symbol of your region's heritage and ensure that for all time to come the salmon will still be thriving.
I want to thank again all of you for what you have done. We can't succeed here without your energy, your vision, your determination. And I know how passionate folks out there are about their salmon, and I'm confident we can succeed and I believe this $100 million will help.
Governor Locke, I'd like to call on you first -- and tell Mona I said hello and Hillary and I are thinking about her and you and we look forward to another beautiful baby. I'd like for you to speak and then maybe Governor Knowles, Chairman Billy Frank and Governor Kitzhaber.
GOVERNOR LOCKE: Well, thank you very much, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President. I'm actually in the hospital here with Mona and we want to thank you and Mrs. Clinton for thinking of her. The baby and she are doing great.
Mr. President, I'm just so delighted that you and the Vice President have recognized the enormity and the necessity of saving the wild salmon along the entire Pacific Northwest, from the northern shores of California to the shores of Alaska. Your proposal comes at a very critical time, as we in the state of Washington are mounting an all-out salmon recovery plan.
Your commitment, the commitment of the administration sends a very strong signal to everyone, from business to environmentalists, from agriculture to timber to fishermen -- both commercial and sports fishermen -- to tribes and non-tribes, and all levels of government, from local to the federal government, that saving the wild salmon is everyone's responsibility.
I can't thank you and the Vice President enough for committing the federal government to working with the states and the tribes on this enormous task. We have assembled a great team here in the state of Washington, involving all the different stakeholders. We can assure you that we will use these dollars in a way that's scientifically based, that will result in demonstrable improvement and recovery of our wild salmon -- the wild salmon which are the icons of the Pacific Northwest.
And I just want to thank you very much for your interest and your commitment to bring the resources of the federal government to this partnership that all of us must be engaged in.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
GOVERNOR KNOWLES: Thank you, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President. We are grateful to you for your commitment to Pacific salmon, as illustrated by this program that you're announcing today. You're absolutely correct, we all do have a passion for salmon here on the West Coast. Fish know no political or geographical boundaries. Alaska is blessed with salmon runs that are over 90 percent of the healthy wild stocks of all of the Pacific salmon -- they spawn in Alaska. And we have that kind of commitment.
It was three years ago that I invited Governor Kitzhaber, at that time Governor Lawrey, Ron Allen from the Indian tribes, to a meeting in Sitka and we called it the Sitka Salmon Summit. And from that we suggested the formation of a Sitka -- or of a Pacific Salmon fund.
We also committed ourselves to work together to protect habitat, to protect endangered species, to work together in a sense of unity. And we have seen the success of that unity. We also want to thank the State Department. The federal government has done a great job in taking that sense of unity to all of the negotiating tables. Jim Pipkin (phonetic) has done an excellent job and we appreciate that.
We are looking forward with programs such as this and the continued unity in working together, I think, to a real new vision of a future that, in a sense, in a different way, with the unity and sense of purpose, we will show the same undaunted courage that Lewis and Clark did in a previous century when they also saw an abundance of salmon -- we can perhaps share that same vision.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN FRANK: Mr. President, this is Billy Frank. How are you doing?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I'm doing fine, Billy.
CHAIRMAN FRANK: Good. And Mr. Vice President. First of all, we're glad the administration has included the tribe in your partnership, in your new salmon initiative. First of all, I'd like to take you back to the first meeting when you were putting your Cabinet together in Little Rock, Arkansas. You had an economy meeting with the tribes, Indian economy. And we appreciate that. The next, you came to the Northwest and did the forest plan, the initiative to that. And we all took part in that.
Now, we're doing a salmon initiative. You know, these are commitments that you have followed through and included the tribe. And yesterday, Governor Locke released economy contributions of Indian tribes to the economy of the state of Washington, and this tells us that we're moving in the right direction. And we support your initiative. We'd like to know if you have some suggestions on how we can support the proposal before Congress.
And as you know, last year, Congress placed a moratorium on our '93 638 contract -- that was the Senator Gorton rider -- and can you assure us that prohibitions such as last year's appropriation rider will not preclude us from accessing and utilizing these funds?
I hope we move in a very positive direction and restore our salmon, like our governors have been talking about. And certainly you and the Vice President came to the Northwest and -- we appreciate this, very much. And thank you very much, Mr. President.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Billy, this is Vice President Al Gore. Norm Dicks is here with us, in the Oval Office, and he and Patty Murray, Senator Patty Murray, have really taken the leadership role in putting together bipartisan support in the Congress for the kind of proposal the President is announcing here today. On a private basis, there have been some encouraging comments from people in both parties in the Congress, including Senator Gorton, and I think there's every expectation that we have a much better chance this year of having real strong support.
And, Congressman Dicks, do you want to make a comment on that?
REPRESENTATIVE DICKS: Billy, we will work together with you and the tribe to see if we can work with Senator Gorton to make certain that these monies are exempted from any prohibition. I'm against the prohibition itself, but you know you can count on me to work with you this year.
And I want to take just a moment here to say thank you to the President and the Vice President for their tremendous leadership because, as you well know, the salmon stocks out there are declining. We need this resource; we need to work with the Governor. But we certainly need the tribes to be actively involved and have resources to get the job done. So we'll make sure you get the money.
MR. FRANK: Thank you. Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Hope you're feeling well.
Governor Kitzhaber, can you hear us?
GOVERNOR KITZHABER: Yes, I can. Thank you, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President. We out here in Oregon sure appreciate the leadership you've shown in getting this appropriation into the budget. And as Governor Knowles said, he did bring this up -- almost three years ago, I think -- at the Sitka Summit, and we're delighted that he has a U.S. senator from his state that, hopefully, will be instrumental in helping us be successful.
Without this money, I think we can't recover the salmon and, perhaps more importantly, restoring watersheds in which they live out here. And I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with the Vice President and Mr. Frampton's predecessor, Katie McGinty, on developing the Oregon plan. And it's clear that, while we have a lot of resources for determining the species that are in danger and providing the listing process, we've got very few resources for actual on-the-ground watershed restoration and fish recovery. So you're filling a very important gap in the state-federal partnership. And we are very grateful, and we look forward to working with you to ensure that these monies are appropriated and get on the ground where the fish need them.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: John, I think the President's comments may have been cut off before you spoke. We all wish -- hope that you are feeling well. You sure sound great.
GOVERNOR KITZHABER: Oh, thanks very much. I'm back in the saddle.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great.
THE PRESIDENT: Do you -- Mr. Vice President, do you want to say anything else?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that we ought to point out that Ron Simms has played a very strong leadership role, and the other executives from Pierce County and Snohomish County have been a part of a regional coalition there.
And, Ron, would you like to say a word?
MR. SIMMS: Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, we are really overjoyed about the initiative that you announced today. It will move us a long way, in partnership with the state of Washington. Governor Gary Locke has been doing an exemplary job with the tri-county area, which is the economic base for the state. So this money will be very needed, very, very helpful, and will move us a long way to the recovery and conservation of the Chinook salmon and the Bow trout. So we're very, very pleased with this initiative, and want to thank you for it.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, Ron, thank you for your leadership.
And, Mayor Paul Schell, you've been a tremendous leader on this, showed guts as well as vision. And this is an historic first for an urban recovery plan. And would you like to make a comment?
MAYOR SCHELL: Well, I want to join with Ron and Norm and everybody else here in thanking you for helping us with this. It's going to be a major challenge to bring everybody from the three counties, all the 36 city jurisdictions that the salmon have to go through to reach their spawning grounds. And it's going to require the best of us to find an answer. Hopefully, it's based on science and goodwill, and that we give ourselves space to build our solutions as we learn what works.
We're going to be celebrating our millennium in Seattle by opening up four urban streets. We're going to spend $5 million bringing fish back to our city and to our citizens, as a way to sort of symbolically say this is an important thing, it does affect our spirits. So we're very pleased.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much.
And I'd like to -- Mr. President, I'd like to suggest we hear a word from Secretary Mary Nichols in California. Governor Gray Davis, having just been sworn in, is already providing important and valued leadership on this issue, and we welcome any comments that you have, Mary.
SECRETARY NICHOLS: Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President, Mr. President. We just want to commend the governors to the north of us for their leadership, as well as the members and all of the city and tribal officials who have worked so hard to help put this initiative together. We have some important resources here for the salmon -- we're a part of their cycle -- and we're very much looking forward to working with the other three governors and with you to make this initiative work for the preservation of the species and for our people.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Mr. President, before your closing comment, I want to express gratitude to the private industry leaders and the environmental group leaders, and the civic NGO group leaders, all of whom have played a key role in building the bipartisan consensus throughout the region which makes this initiative possible.
A lot of folks remember the big difference that your forest plan made when we started this administration with a region-wide vision that people came together in support of, ending the deadlock, creating the basis for strong economic growth with environment. This is very much in that vein, and the fact that the county and city leaders, and governors, and private industry leaders are all behind this is just an historic breakthrough. None of it would have happened without your leadership, Mr. President, and I really am excited about going forward with this new proposal that you've made today.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I know you're all busy and have many other things to do. I just want to thank you for what I said earlier. You brought this to our attention, you asked us to do something. We're committed to this, we have to pass this now. But this needs to be a long-term commitment to partnership with the federal government. And I want you to help us pass it in Congress. I want you to help us work with you to implement it. And I want you to continue to make sure that we are aware of exactly what's happening in your backyard.
I think this is very important to the future of the entire country, that we prove we can do this together. And this is something that every single one of you will always be proud of having taken a leadership role in.
Thank you very much, and good-bye.
END 1:31 P.M. EST