Cheney touts administration record on conservation |

Cheney touts administration record on conservation

RENO ” Vice President Dick Cheney told attendees of the White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy meeting Friday the Bush Administration has been a strong partner for conservation groups and is moving to expand three successful initiatives.

The Health Forest Initiative, Cheney told an audience of more than 600 at the Reno Ballroom, has helped clean up dangerous kindling and underbrush, restoring more than 26 million acres of forest land. He said there has been significant improvement for America’s wetlands and the Conservation Reserve program has enrolled more than a million acres of private grassland, helping ranchers and farmers restore that habitat.

He said even as he prepares to leave office, President George W. Bush is expanding those programs. He said more incentives for landowners to join would add 7 million acres to the Conservation Reserve program over the next five years.

Bush has committed the federal government to restoring another 4 million acres of wetlands in that same time period.

“Conservation tax incentives have proven extremely effective,” said Cheney. He said they should be made a permanent part of the tax code and expanded to include businesses that make their living from hunting and fishing.

Cheney praised those attending the conference saying, “the men and women in this room understand what conservation is all about.”

“Sportsmen tend to be the best informed and most intensive advocates for conservation of wildlife,” he said.

Cheney was introduced by Bush through a videotape in which the president explained he had to cancel his appearance because of the congressional vote on the bailout package.

“In my place today, I have sent my favorite hunter,” he said, drawing laughter.

“I’ve taken a lot of grief over the years for that hunting accident in Texas,” Cheney told the crowd, referring to the incident in which he accidentally wounded a fellow hunter.

“Most of it from the president. The president says to me, ‘Here I am at 30 percent in the polls and you shot the only trial lawyer in Texas who supports me.'”

The victim recovered from the shotgun pellet wounds suffered in the incident.

The conference was convened by an executive order issued by Bush in 2007 to draft an action plan to guide future wildlife conservation efforts nationwide and protect “the nation’s hunting heritage.”

– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.