September 25, 2009
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid today entered the following statement into the Congressional Record in recognition of National Public Lands Day:
Mr. President, I rise today in recognition of the 16th annual National Public Lands Day, which will be celebrated on Saturday, September 26. I am pleased to acknowledge the efforts of volunteers across our nation who will come together to improve and restore one of America’s most valuable assets, our public lands.
National Public Lands Day started in 1994 with 700 volunteers working in just a few locations. This year over 130,000 volunteers will come together to work at more than 2,000 locations across all 50 states. These people come from all walks of life, holding a shared interest in protecting our public lands for the enjoyment of future generations.
Our nation has a grand tradition of conservation. When Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872, it was the world’s first national park. The idea of a national park was an American invention of historic proportions that led the way for global conservation efforts. President Teddy Roosevelt, one of our earliest and most energetic conservationists dedicated 194 million acres of national parks and national preserves over the course of his presidency. America has continued to build on this tradition with endeavors such as the operation of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and 1940s, passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, establishment of Earth Day in 1970, enactment of the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act in 1997, and the signing into law of this year’s Omnibus Public Land Management Act to name just a few examples. National Public Lands Day provides an annual opportunity for the American public to devote a day to conservation and to give back to the public lands that give so much to us.
Public lands make up over one third of our country, and are places of continuous discovery, where we go to find ourselves, to uncover our history, and to explore for new resources. Our public lands provide wide open spaces, deep forests, dramatic vistas, and opportunities for solitude that not only fulfill us individually, but form a fundamental part of the American character. Our public lands are part of who we are and the diversity of their uses, like the diversity of their landscapes, reflects our identity. In many areas, they provide timber, ore, and forage that are the economic bedrock of rural America. In other areas, Congress has designated them as wilderness, places “untrammeled by man, where man is a visitor who does not remain.”
I recognize and thank the thousands of federal employees who manage these lands year-round. The Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and other federal land management agencies ensure that public lands in Nevada and across the nation meet the changing needs of our communities. They provide a vital, though rarely reported, service to our nation.
Mr. President, I would also like to acknowledge and thank the many Nevadans that will spend September 26 improving our public lands. Volunteers across northern Nevada will be working to improve our public lands in places like the Carson and Truckee rivers, Cain Spring, the East Fork of the Walker River, Eight Mile Creek, Dry Mountain, and Sacramento Pass. At the same time, southern Nevada volunteers will work in sites like Ash Springs, Gold Butte, Lake Mead, Pittman Wash, Red Rock Canyon, and the Great Unconformity.
The focus of National Public Lands Day this year is water on the public lands. Clean water is essential to the health of our environment and the health of our citizens. Many parts of our nation have faced severe droughts in recent years, and caring for our water resources is as important as it has ever been. In Nevada, as the driest state in our nation, we are particularly aware that water is a precious resource.
The preservation of our public lands is a priority for me. Mr. President, our public lands are part of what makes the United States a great nation. I voice my gratitude to all who will participate in National Public Lands Day this year.
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