Thousands jam Lake Tahoe arena for Obama speech at summit

Cheryl Sanders
September 1, 2016

Since that summit, about $2 billion has been spent to improve Lake Tahoe's water quality and for projects to reduce runoff, restore wetlands and restrict development.

"We protected more acres of public land and water than any administration in history", Obama said at the 20th Lake Tahoe Summit on Wednesday. Midway sits inside the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which President George W. Bush created and Obama expanded ahead of his trip to make it the world's largest protected stretch of ocean. Obama told a sunbaked crowd of several thousand in a small lakeside town that "our conservation effort is more critical, more urgent than ever". That's the presidential helicopter that he boarded after the summit to fly back to Reno-Tahoe International Airport before he continues on to Hawaii.

Obama said the extraordinary efforts that have been put into healing Lake Tahoe the past two decades prove it is possible to pass on the nation's greatest natural treasures to future generations. Obama's visit comes during the 20th annual Lake Tahoe Summit, an event committed to exploring changing climate and its impact on ecosystems, like the Tahoe basin "Unlike other lakes that have become dumps, this is still a pristine wonder", said Calif. Gov.

"There is no contradiction between being smart on the environment and having a strong economy, and we've got to keep it going", Obama said.

Brown noted the irony of two Republican governors overcoming their distaste of government to create a new bureaucracy specifically to protect Lake Tahoe.

Brown told the thousands of people crowded into an outdoor arena in a casino parking lot that they are standing next to the most attractive lake in the world.

Feinstein and Boxer also were showered with praise Wednesday for their dedication to environmental protection and, more specifically, their work pushing through legislation in 2000 that provided $300 million in federal funds to restore the lake.

Reid opened the 20th annual Lake Tahoe Summit Wednesday at an outdoor arena on the lake's south shore where President Barack Obama will deliver the keynote address later in the afternoon.

Reid says that thanks to the almost $2 billion that has been spent to reverse a loss of clarity since 1997, Lake Tahoe is now "more pristine than it has been in decades".

Scientists believe an array of factors such as storm-water runoff, auto traffic and nearby construction have fueled the loss of clarity in the alpine lake, leading to major investments over the last 20 years by Congress, private groups, local authorities and the states of California and Nevada. The Nevada Democrat who is retiring this year also persuaded former President Bill Clinton to host the first Tahoe Summit in 1997. Jerry Brown and assistant U.S. Interior Secretary Janice Schneider.

He said it doesn't take a scientist: "the overwhelming body of evidence shows that climate change is caused by human activity".

The Lake Tahoe area is home to only about 50,000 full-time residents, but those numbers swell by four times during the height of the summer and winter tourist seasons.

In Nevada, Obama paid tribute to picturesque Lake Tahoe, which at 22 miles long and 12 miles wide would cover all of California with more than a foot of water if it were emptied.

Obama pledged to further increase United States federal government efforts to protect the environment and combat climate change. Then he'll travel to Honolulu to address leaders of island nations.

Obama's brief stop along the Nevada-California border came at the start of an 11-day worldwide tour that will take the president to Asia for his final time as president.

The lush island offered Obama a chance to emphasize a theme he's returned to frequently in his climate campaign: that remote islands are the most vulnerable to rising sea levels and should help lead the fight to slow global warming.

Other reports by iNewsToday