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A call for national resource leadership.


As we enter the final decade of the 20th Century, the most astonishing changes in memory are rocking the world. Old enmities and alliances from the World War II era are crumbling, and the environment has once more moved onto the center stage of public opinion and political rhetoric.

All of these changes call the United States to exceptional vision and leadership, in both the public and private sectors. Obviously, we can't set the environmental agenda for the world, and we shouldn't try. But we should perform in ways that establish our credibility as an environmental responsible society.

We are gratified with the signals from the Bush Administration in this regard. The federal deficit is the overriding reality that drives national policy, of course, but in spite of that burden, the Administration is clearly seeking ways to step forward in a leadership role. We at the American Forestry Association are encouraging them to create a major new federal initiative in promoting trees and forests. We are convinced that the overwhelming acceptance by the American people of our Global ReLeaf [R] campaign is a sure sign that Americans are ready to act to rebuild the environment.

As I write this - and maybe even by the time you read it - we're still not sure what shape the President's new program might take. We can make some guesses, just by watching what Mr. Bush has done already. He has been very outspoken on the virtues of planting trees, of properly managing forests, of involving the private sector in solving environmental problems, and of the role of citizen volunteers. If he sticks to those premises, he can't go far wrong.

Our challenge in AFA is to try to speak with a voice that is loud, clear, and understable to the average American. We need to help people understand that well-managed forests both public and private, fostered and maintained by land managers who are actively and intelligently involved in constructive, regenerative management, are a vital part of the environmental quality that this nation - and the world - will require in the coming decades.

A new federal initiative in forest improvement would be a welcome partner in that effort, not because it would solve all the forest problems we face, but because it would tell Americans once again that good forests are vital to the quality of life for each of us. And it would be a clear statement that the quality of forests continues to be a mirror image of how much each of us cares about this land and is willing to act to maintain that essential resource.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Forests
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Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Sampson, Neil
Publication:American Forests
Article Type:editorial
Date:Jan 1, 1990
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