Area Damaged by Squires Fire
Squires Peak Fire Area
August 22, 2002
11:33 A.M. PDT
QUESTION: Mr. President, if I may, your proposal to thin out the forest a little bit,
some critics say it might cause a drastic increase in commercial logging. What
do you say --
THE PRESIDENT: What the critics need to do is come and stand right where I stand.
It's -- what the critics need to do is come and see firsthand the effects of
bad forest policy. That's what they need to come and see. And by the way, there's
nothing wrong with people being able to earn a living off of effective forest
management. There are a lot of people in this part of the state that can't find
work because we don't properly manage our forests. And this is the second fire
site I've been to this summer, and it's the same story. Had we properly managed
our forests, the devastation cause would not nearly -- have been nearly as severe
as it has been. And it's a crying shame.
You heard the man say that when a forest like this burns, there's more likely
to be disease. The beetles will come and start -- we've got to do a better job.
And that's why I'm here. I'm going to talk about how the administration can
move, and I'm going to call upon Congress to enact some reasonable legislation
to make sure we better manage our forest, so these guys aren't having to fight
fires every year. Particularly, one of the biggest we've seen in a long time,
the Biscuit fire. And the point is, is that we can prevent fire by good sound
* * * * *
QUESTION: Mr. President, do you have any reaction to President Musharraf's rewriting
of the Pakistani constitution?
THE PRESIDENT: My reaction about President Musharraf, he's still tight with
us on the war against terror, and that's what I appreciate. He's a -- he understands
that we've got to keep al Qaeda on the run, and that by keeping him on the run,
it's more likely we will bring him to justice. And I appreciate his strong support.
Obviously, to the extent that our friends promote democracy, it's important.
We will continue to work with our friends and allies to promote democracy, give
people a chance to express their opinions the proper way. And -- so we'll stay
in touch with President Musharraf in more ways than one.
QUESTION: Mr. President --
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
QUESTION: -- back to the fire. Do we have enough money in the federal coffer to pay
for all the things needed throughout the West?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we'll -- if we don't we'll deal with it. Because I mentioned
to the Governor, Congress has got a way of spending money. My job is to make
sure they spend on priorities. And if I didn't think the forest of the United
States was a priority, I wouldn't be here. It is a priority.
The other thing is, is that there are partnerships which can be put together
to the benefit of those who care about conservation, the state, and those who
employ people. And the approach I'm going to talk about and the approach, frankly,
that the Governor has worked with Governor Kempthorne of Idaho on is a balanced
approach, one that recognizes more than one party involved, that there are a
variety of folks involved with the health of our forests, and all voices ought
to be listened to and a strategy ought to be developed that will -- that will
achieve goals. One of the goals is prevent fire, healthy forests. Another goal
is going to be to conserve our forests. Another goal will be to provide jobs.
So we believe we can do that.
QUESTION: Sir, Bill Simon's family's investigation fund was found guilty of fraud. How
do you reconcile that fact with your visits tomorrow to California to campaign
for him, given your corporate accounting --
THE PRESIDENT: I agree -- I understand your question. Bill Simon assures us
that when the courts look at this case he'll be innocent, and I take the man
for his word.
Okay. You're tired of me answering questions, I know. (Laughter.) It's unbelievable,
two days in a row.