Opinion: Lake Tahoe Summit a powerful reminder of conservation | SierraSun.com

Opinion: Lake Tahoe Summit a powerful reminder of conservation

Caroline Beteta
Opinion

For more than 50 years, the iconic "Keep Tahoe Blue" campaign has reminded residents and visitors alike that our future depends on conservation.

That sentiment will be top of mind for me on Aug. 31 as I listen to President Barack Obama and other leaders at the Lake Tahoe Summit. The annual gathering is a powerful reminder for residents and visitors alike that our future depends on preservation.

California has more at stake than any other state — we have the most national and state parks, monuments and historic sites.

Lake Tahoe is just one of California's many natural wonders that we must work to protect. The unforgettable beauty of outdoor landmarks across California — from the Sierra Nevada to Joshua Tree — inspires people around the world to dream big.

Our 9 million acres of public lands draw visitors to experience the rich history of our state and national parks, engage in outdoor experiences and immerse themselves in nature.

And this desire to experience California's natural wonders powers a strong economic engine: visitors inspired by the great outdoors inject more than $8 billion in visitor spending into the state's economy each year, underscoring our incentive to be the premier travel destination for visitors from around the world.

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In 2015, more than 59 million domestic travelers to the state said they came to California for outdoor recreation, and 52 percent of international travelers to California visited national parks and monuments.

California is a champion of environmental protection and a global economic leader, recently rising to the sixth largest economy in the world. Both Californians and tourists have a responsibility to support environmental and economic priorities by serving as stewards of our public lands. We must protect California's natural landscapes for future generations and the communities that depend on these attractions for their economic success.

As the president and CEO of a global marketing organization, the "Keep Tahoe Blue" campaign resonates deeply with me. As world leaders come together today to discuss protecting our resources, it's clear that the need to conserve is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago when the Lake Tahoe Summit first began.

We must strive to find the balance between protecting our ecosystems and preserving our cultural traditions with contributing to the state's thriving economy.

Caroline Beteta is president and CEO of Visit California, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote travel to California. She wrote this for the Sierra Sun's sister paper in South Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Daily Tribune.