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The White House on Wednesday announced a series of new funding and environmental programs to address the deteriorating health of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding forests caused in part by the increasing temperatures brought about by climate change.
The announcement came just hours before President Obama was scheduled to address the Lake Tahoe Summit, an annual environmental conference that California and Nevada leaders began two decades ago because of concerns about the declining water clarity in the once crystal-clear Sierra lake.
Tahoe’s surface water temperature in 2015 was the highest ever recorded, while annual snowfall levels have been on the decline. The increasing air temperatures in the Lake Tahoe region also have stressed the surrounding forests, causing an alarming increase in tree mortality and fire danger, according to the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.
In response, the Obama administration announced the following assistance:
- The Department of the Interior will provide $29.5 million to reduce dead trees and other hazardous fuels 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, for sustainable recreation and to improve forest health throughout the nearby Truckee River watershed.
Along with assistance for the Lake Tahoe region, the White House also announced a new partnership between California and the Department of the Interior to assess the future of the Salton Sea.