Standing in front of the crystal-blue waters of Lake Tahoe at this year’s 20th annual Lake Tahoe Summit on Aug. 31st, 2016, President Barack Obama discussed the importance of conservation efforts and combating global warming.
The Lake Tahoe summit is dedicated to making the conservation of Lake Tahoe a priority in California and Nevada. It was Obama’s first stop on a two-day environmental conservation tour.
“The challenges of conservation and combating climate change are connected — they’re linked,” Obama said to a crowd of about 8,000 people last Wednesday. “We tend to think of climate change as if it’s something that’s just happening out there that we don’t have control over.”
Obama also announced new measures to help ensure the “jewel of the Sierras” stays crystal clear.
“For thousands of years this place has been a special one. Just as the space is sacred to Native Americans it should be sacred to all Americans,” Obama said.
The Department of the Interior will provide $29.5 million to clear dead trees and other hazardous fuels in order to improve forest health and decrease the threat of catastrophic wildfires.
The Environmental Protection Agency will provide $230,000 to manage and reduce storm water runoff in the Tahoe region.
The National Forest Foundation, working with the U.S. Forest Service and local communities, announced it has raised over $4 million for creek restoration projects, sustainable recreation and improving forest health throughout the nearby Truckee River watershed.
“The health of the land and the health of the people are tied together, and what happens to the land also happens to the people,” Obama said, quoting an unnamed former leader of the Washoe Tribe, NPR News reports.
Since the summit’s inauguration in 1997, the federal government has spent around $2 billion on the health of the lake and the surrounding environment, according to NPR News.
Among Obama’s conservation efforts is the plan to restore and protect the Salton Sea, a deteriorating lake in California. The Salton Sea has recently become a source of worry for nearby residents, as the drying lakebed leaves behind toxic dust.
Obama continued his environmental conservation tour Thursday, where he was scheduled to speak in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Midway Atoll before continuing his trip to Asia to discuss and expand U.S.-Asia engagement in both trade and climate.