[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1993, Book I)]
[April 2, 1993]
[Pages 385-386]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 385]]

Remarks on Opening the Forest Conference in Portland, Oregon
April 2, 1993

    Good morning. I want to thank every one of you who are in the room 
today and also all of those who are outside--and there are certainly 
many who have come here--for caring enough to be here. We're here to 
discuss issues whose seriousness demands that we respect each other's 
concerns, each other's experiences, and each other's views. Together we 
can move beyond confrontation to build a consensus on a balanced policy 
to preserve jobs and to protect our environment.
    I want to say a special word of thanks to Governor Roberts and Mayor 
Katz for hosting this conference, and Governors Lowry, Wilson, and 
Andrus for attending.
    As you can see, the Vice President and I are here with 
representatives from our administration who deal every day with 
virtually every issue which will be discussed. With us here today are 
the Interior Secretary, Bruce Babbitt; the Agriculture Secretary, Mike 
Espy; Labor Secretary Bob Reich, all of whom have been meeting with 
people here in the Northwest in recent weeks. We also have the Commerce 
Secretary, Ron Brown; Environmental Protection Administrator Carol 
Browner; the Deputy Budget Director, Alice Rivlin; and our Science and 
Technology Adviser, Dr. John Gibbons.
    We're all here to listen and to learn from you. We're here to 
discuss issues about which people feel strongly, believe deeply, and 
often disagree vehemently. That's because the issues are important and 
are related and intrinsic to the very existence of the people who live 
here in the Pacific Northwest.
    We're discussing how people earn their livelihoods. We're discussing 
the air, the water, the forests that are important to your lives. And 
we're addressing the values that are at the core of those lives. From 
the trailblazers and the pioneers to the trapper and the hunters, the 
loggers and the mill workers, the people of the Northwest have earned 
their livings from the land and have lived in awe of the power, the 
majesty, and the beauty of the forests, the rivers, and the streams.
    Coming from a State, as I do, that was also settled by pioneers and 
which is still 53 percent timberland--we have an important timber 
industry and people who appreciate the beauty and the intrinsic value of 
our woodlands--I've often felt at home here in the Northwest. I'll never 
forget the people I've met here over the last year-and-a-half whose 
lives have been touched by the issues that we're here to discuss. I 
remember the timber industry workers with whom I spoke at a town hall 
meeting in Seattle last July who invited me to come to their communities 
and learn about their problems.
    I remember the families from the timber industry whom I met last 
September in Max Groesbeck's backyard in Eugene, Oregon. I was moved 
beyond words by the stories that people told me there and by their 
determination to fight for their communities and their companies and 
their families.
    I was also inspired by Frank Henderson, who had lost his job as a 
timber worker and gone through retraining to learn thermoplastic welding 
and now owns a plastics welding business of his own. He was a guest of 
mine at the Inaugural, and I'm glad to have him here with us today.
    And I remember Elizabeth Bailey of Hayfork, California. She's 11 
years old and she was one of the girls and boys who visited me at the 
White House a few Saturdays ago to participate in our televised townhall 
meeting for children. Her parents, Willie and Nadine Bailey, have had to 
close their timber business because, in the past, politics seemed to 
matter more than people or the environment. And I'm glad that Nadine 
Bailey, a dedicated spokesperson for loggers, is also here with us 
    As I've spoken with people who work in the timber industry I've been 
impressed by their love of the land. As one worker told me at our 
meeting in the Groesbecks' backyard, ``I care about Oregon a lot, the 
beauty of the country.''
    We're fortunate to have people with us today who bring not only a 
variety of experiences but a variety of views to the questions before 
the conference: How can we achieve a balanced and comprehensive policy 
that recognizes the importance of the forests and timber to the economy 
and jobs of this region? And how can we preserve our precious old-growth 
forests which are

[[Page 386]]

part of our national heritage and that, once destroyed, can never be 
    For too long, the National Government has done more to confuse the 
issues than to clarify them. In the absence of real leadership, at least 
six different Federal Agencies have hooked their horses to different 
sides of the cart, and then they've wondered why the cart wouldn't move 
forward. To make things worse, the rhetoric from Washington has often 
exaggerated and exacerbated the tensions between those who speak about 
the economy and those who speak about the environment.
    Not surprisingly, these issues have very often ended up in court 
while the economy, the environment, and the people have all suffered. 
That's why it's so important that the people here today are meeting in a 
conference room, not a courtroom. Whatever your views, everyone who will 
speak today comes from the Northwest and will have to live with the 
results of whatever decisions we all make.
    We're here to begin a process that will help ensure that you will be 
able to work together in your communities, for the good of your 
businesses, your jobs, and your natural environment. The process we 
begin today will not be easy. Its outcome cannot possibly make everyone 
happy. Perhaps it won't make anyone completely happy. But the worst 
thing we can do is nothing. As we begin this process, the most important 
thing we can do is to admit, all of us to each other, that there are no 
simple or easy answers.
    This is not about choosing between jobs and the environment but 
about recognizing the importance of both and recognizing that virtually 
everyone here and everyone in this region cares about both. After all, 
nobody appreciates the natural environment more than the working people 
who depend upon it for fishing, for boating, for teaching their children 
to respect the land, the rivers, and the forests. And most 
environmentalists are working people and business people themselves, and 
understand that only an economically secure America can have the 
strength and confidence necessary to preserve our land, our water and 
our forests, as you can see in how badly they're despoiled in nations 
that are not economically secure.
    A healthy economy and a healthy environment are not at odds with 
each other. They are essential to each other. Here in the Northwest, as 
in my own home State, people understand that healthy forests are 
important for a healthy forest-based economy; understand that if we 
destroy our old growth forest, we'll lose jobs in salmon fishing and 
tourism and, eventually, in the timber industry as well. We'll destroy 
recreational opportunities in hunting and fishing for all and eventually 
make our communities less attractive.
    We all understand these things. Let's not be afraid to acknowledge 
them and to recognize the simple but powerful truth that we come here 
today less as adversaries than as neighbors and coworkers. Let's 
confront problems, not people.
    Today I ask all of you to speak from your hearts, and I ask you to 
listen and strive to understand the stories of your neighbors. We're all 
here because we want a healthy economic environment and a healthy 
natural environment, because we want to end the divisions here in the 
Northwest and the deadlock in Washington.
    If we commit today to move forward together, we can arrive at a 
balanced solution and put the stalemate behind us. Together, we can make 
a new start.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10:38 a.m. at the Oregon Convention Center. 
In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Barbara Roberts of Oregon, Mayor 
Vera Katz of Portland, Gov. Mike Lowry of Washington, Gov. Pete Wilson 
of California, and Gov. Cecil D. Andrus of Idaho.