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Bush makes environmental pitch

by ANNE JENKINS, Sun News Service

Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush made a major conservation policy statement Thursday, June 8, at an invitation-only gathering at Sand Harbor.

He said it will take hard work and ingenuity and inspiration to get a proper conservation policy to work.

He said he believes it can be done.

“It is our duty to use the lands well, and sometimes not to use them at all,” Bush said. “It is our responsibility as citizens, but more than that it is our calling as stewards of the Earth.”

Bush said the government needs to trust local people to make the right decisions. He said he believes local people and organizations should be involved with conservation decision-making.

He broke his conservation policy down to five basic points.

Bush said he will fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund of $900 million and provide 50 percent for state and local conservation efforts.

He said he will provide matching grants for states to establish a Landowner Incentive Program to help private landowners protect rare species while engaging in traditional land management practices. He said he will also establish a Private Stewardship Grant Program to provide funding for private conservation initiatives.

Bush said he will establish the President’s Awards for Private Stewardship to recognize and honor the best examples of private conservation.

Bush said he will create a tax incentive to provide capital gains tax relief for private landowners who voluntarily sell their land for conservation purposes. He said he supports excluding 50 percent of any gain realized from private, voluntary sales of land or interests in land for conservation purposes.

Finally, Bush said he will eliminate the estate tax. This will make it easier for private landowners to pass their land intact to the next generation.

“I will abolish the death tax, it leaves citizens with no choice,” Bush said.

The American West has been called the native home of hope, Bush said. He gave examples of private conservation projects by naming successes in Texas, Wyoming and Utah.

Bush was joined at the podium by Gov. Kenny Guinn, Gov. Bill Owens of Colorado, Gov. Jim Geringer of Wyoming, Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt and U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons of Nevada.

John Ensign, Nevada Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, was in the audience.

In welcoming Bush to the lake, Gibbons said he hoped to persuade Bush to make Lake Tahoe his Camp David.

Bush would introduce legislation to save Lake Tahoe and would follow through on his promises, Gibbons said .

“You see what those of us in Nevada feel is our nation’s greatest treasure,” Gibbons said referring to Lake Tahoe.

Guinn welcomed Bush to Lake Tahoe, “what many of us refer to as the eighth wonder of the world,” and said Bush was a friend of Nevada’s and he believed Bush will be the next president.

After the speech, Tim Callicrate, vice chairman of the Incline Village General Improvement District’s Board of Trustees, said, “It was very refreshing. I like his ideas of stewardship. I look forward to eight years of new and exciting ideas.”

Callicrate said it was good to see Bush at Lake Tahoe.

“I’m proud to have met the future president,” Callicrate said.

District Trustee Gail Krolick said Bush’s visit was extremely important, and an honor, for Incline Village and the Tahoe Basin.

“I’m honored to be part of this wonderful occasion,” Krolick said.

John Danielson, the district’s general manager, said Bush was an interesting person.

“He sounds as though he’s talking to you, not giving a speech. I liked the fact he said nice things about his wife,” Danielson said. “I think he’d stick to his promises.”

Gibbons said after Bush’s speech that Bush understands all the issues at Lake Tahoe and Bush had said everything he wanted to hear.

“It was perfect for paradise,” Gibbons said.

Gibbons said Bush’s visit was very important for Northern Nevada.

Bush has sound science-grounded principles on environment and conservation, and Lake Tahoe is one of his commitments.

Bush would work with the local government and organizations, which will allow Lake Tahoe to be saved and preserved, Gibbons said.

The lake put on a picture-perfect Tahoe day for George W. Bush’s visit.

“It’s quite a setting, isn’t it? Especially to a boy raised in the desert. It’s a long way from Midland, Texas,” Bush said in his opening remarks.


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