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                           September 24, 2000

President Clinton today announced new protection for 784 acres of forest, meadow, and rugged cliffs along the central California coast, preserving the southern gateway to Big Sur and the southernmost range of the coast redwood. The Clinton-Gore Administration completed acquisition of the San Carpoforo Creek parcel - which now becomes part of the Los Padres National Forest -- with funding from the President's fiscal year 2000 land conservation budget. The President also urged Congress to pass permanent conservation funding to protect critical lands across America, to fully fund his fiscal year 2001 land conservation budget, and to send him budget bills free of anti-environmental riders.

Protecting Big Sur's Natural Treasures, Ensuring Public Access. Big Sur's 90 miles of rugged coastline and sheer cliffs are known around the world for their scenic beauty and unique habitat for endangered species. Wide expanses of grassy meadows and dense redwood forest characterize the world-renowned coastline. Approximately 50 percent of the California's Big Sur region is located within the 1.75 million-acre Los Padres National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service acquired the San Carpoforo Creek parcel for $4.55 million from the Trust for Public Land, which had purchased the property from the Williams family, a local ranching family committed to seeing the land protected. The land - which extends to the Pacific Ocean and is known as the southern gateway to Big Sur - provides significant habitat for endangered steelhead trout and the smith's blue butterfly. It also is the southernmost range of the coast redwood. The acquisition also ensures protection of public access, an unusual feature for the Big Sur coastline. With the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary off the coast, this region draws millions of visitors each year.

Preserving Critical Lands Across America. Over the past seven years, President Clinton has secured stronger protection for tens of millions of acres of precious land across America - protecting Yellowstone National Park from mining, forging an historic agreement to protect ancient California redwoods, permanently protecting the Baca Ranch in New Mexico, and restoring the Florida Everglades. The Clinton-Gore Administration has helped hundreds of communities protect parks, farms, and other green spaces, and worked with landowners to restore and preserve the natural values of private lands. It has increased support for national marine sanctuaries fivefold. Last year, the President secured $652 million -- a 42 percent increase - to support federal, state, and local efforts to protect America's land and coastal resources in fiscal year 2000. So far, Congress has approved less than half of the President's request for these priorities in fiscal year 2001. Today, the President again called upon Congress to fully fund his fiscal year 2001 land conservation budget.

Broad Bipartisan Support for Permanent Conservation Funding. To ensure strong conservation efforts in the years ahead, the President has called for the creation of a permanent endowment to protect America's critical lands. His fiscal year 2001 budget proposes a new category to ensure permanent funding of at least $1.4 billion per year, with at least half going to support state and local conservation efforts. Permanent funding would ensure that the federal government, states, and local communities have a consistent and reliable funding source to protect open spaces, farmland, forests, ocean and coastal resources, and urban and suburban parks. It would mean that citizens could enjoy more open spaces - from the Los Padres National Forest to their own neighborhoods - and that future generations of Americans could appreciate the natural treasures that are among this nation's greatest riches.

The call for permanent conservation funding has received broad bipartisan support this year. The Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) passed the House with more than 300 votes, and the Senate Energy Committee reported a bipartisan bill that close to two-thirds of the Senate has said must be considered this year. On September 21, 2000, in a demonstration of the broad national support this legislation enjoys, the President was joined at the White House by mayors, educators, sports figures, conservationists, and others at an event to call on the Senate to pass permanent conservation funding before Congress adjourns.

Fighting Anti-Environmental Riders. The President also called upon Congress to send him budget bills free of anti-environmental riders. Bills now before Congress contain riders that aim to: block cleanup of contaminated sediments at Superfund sites; undermine efforts to improve air quality; weaken protections for our drinking water; prevent hard-rock mining reforms on public lands; promote overcutting of timber on national forests; block common sense efforts to improve energy conservation and combat climate change; and undermine efforts to protect endangered species.

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