WASHINGTON, April 18, 2012 – Like her husband, former President George W. Bush, Laura Bush has long championed a can-do spirit of stewardship of our nation’s environmental treasures. In her official capacities as first lady of Texas and of the United States, Mrs. Bush recognized “Americans have a great tradition of working together with our neighbors and coming up with solutions.”
A hiking and outdoor enthusiast, Mrs. Bush encourages Americans to spend time in and care for our National Parks. As Honorary Chair of the National Park Foundation, she visited more than thirty National Parks and Historic Sites throughout the United States, spotlighting the parks’ glory and their needs.
It is no surprise then to see Mrs. Bush continue to advocate for environmental protection by co-founding Taking Care of Texas and through her public support of Earth Day Dallas. She is setting a powerful example of stewardship from the ground up. As Mrs. Bush has said, “By knowing more, we can make better choices to protect and conserve our land, water and wildlife.”
During his tenure in Austin and Washington, President Bush knew government did not have all the answers for protecting the environment. While President Bush respected that the federal government had a crucial role to play in conservation, particularly in managing our public lands and wildlife refuges, he also recognized that problems arose when environmental leaders reject partnerships with private citizens and local communities, relying solely on the power of Washington for regulations, penalties, and dictates from afar.
During the Bush administration’s first term, I joined Interior Secretary Gale Norton’s team as one of her Assistant Directors of the National Park Service, where we diligently applied the pro-partnership “Four C’s” credo in decision making: “Communication, consultation and cooperation, all in the service of conservation.”
It is in the spirit of that inclusive and conservative credo, many national conservation groups like ConservAmerica and The Nature Conservancy, along with more localized organizations such as Taking Care of Texas and Earth Day Dallas advocate for sensibly protecting the environment without impeding private property rights or unreasonably shutting off access to and use of public resources.
Figuring out how humanity can meet its needs while protecting the environment is a tremendous but rewarding challenge. An important part of the answer is building conservation partnerships between the federal government and state governments, between local communities and private landowners.
Earth Day Dallas is an example of these partnerships, serving as a celebration of innovation and the initiatives that can help us better understand how to care for the natural resources we depend on. The supporters and founders of this partnership appreciate that true conservatism is about prudence and responsible stewardship.
The Republican Party has a great conservation legacy, which we should be proud of and promote as part of building a stronger, more inclusive GOP. It includes establishing national parks, forests and wildlife refuges, protecting wilderness and wild rivers, passing landmark environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act, as well as encouraging local initiative and private solutions in managing environmental problems.
As America commemorates Earth Day this April 22nd, Earth Day Dallas points the way to the future of environmental protection. Supporters of public and private partnerships like Earth Day Dallas recognize that the environment and the economy are not enemies and that both a healthy environment and a sound economy are essential to the prosperity and strength of our nation.
As President Ronald Reagan said, “Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.”
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.