Department of the Interior
1:40 p.m. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Please take a seat. Thank you very very much.
President Williams, thank you for that presentation and for your leadership of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe. You know, it was great meeting you last week in Nevada.
And thank you, Secretary Haaland, for hosting this White House Conservation Summit here. You know, and I want to thank all your fellow Cabinet members and federal employees in all agencies for carrying out this historic conservation plan across our nation, because it’s a big deal.
We’re grateful to have incredible partners, including members of Congress, tribal leaders, conservation advocates, all here today.
And folks, in my first week in office, I issued an executive order establishing the country’s first National Conservation Goal. And we call it “Americ-” – “America the Beautiful.” And it’s a national campaign to protect and conserve by 2030 at least 30 percent of the land and water that sustains and sustains our nation.
And last year, on Earth Day, I signed an executive order to protect America’s forests and harness the power of nature in the fight against climate change. I’m here today to talk about the incredible progress we’ve made.
You know, in my first year in office, we protected more land and water than any American president since John Kennedy. And — (applause) —
And with the help of members of Congress here today, I signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest investment in climate and environmental justice and conservation ever made in the world. (Applause.)
Over the past two years, these investments have helped protect our iconic outdoor spaces, preserve our historic sites, and make our nation more resilient to the devastating effects of climate change.
We also rely on important partners to help us achieve our goals.
Farmers and ranchers have implemented critical conservation and stewardship practices on 50 million acres of private land in areas the size of the state of South Dakota.
In Alaska, we protected the Tongass National Forest and Bristol Bay salmon — from Bristol Bay. (Applause.)
And we, we restore the protections and status that the previous administration revoked at Bears Ears National Monument (applause); the Escalante Grand Staircase; and north: the northeast canyons and seamounts of the marine monument.
Last year — (applause) — last year, I had the honor of visiting Camp Hale Continental Divide in Colorado — (applause) — and adding it to the list of national monuments for the first time in my administration.
matter. This is important, because when we conserve our country’s natural gifts, we not only protect the livelihoods of the people who depend on them, such as family farms, outdoor recreation businesses, rural communities that receive visitors from all over the world. the country and around the world. world that matters We are protecting the heart and soul of our national pride. We’re protecting parts of the story, ours — telling our story that will be told for generations and generations to come.
You know, our natural wonders are literally the envy of the world. They have always been and always will be fundamental to our heritage as a people and essential to our identity as a nation.
That’s why the budget I released earlier this month includes new funding to increase access to our natural areas for Americans of all origins. And we’re going to continue to take aggressive steps toward conservation with the big actions I’m announcing, about to announce today.
First, I’m proud to use my authority under the Antiquities Act to establish the — and I — I want you to know that it’s a big deal — the — (laughter) —
Havana Kwa’ May [Avi Kwa’ Ame] — I — am having problems —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Kwa’ Ame!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible)!
THE PRESIDENT: Got it. (Laughter and applause.) I only know it as “Spirit Mountain” (applause) in Nevada.
It is one of our most beautiful landscapes linking one of the largest contiguous wildlife corridors in the United States – 500,000 acres. (Applause.) It’s impressive. Breathtaking deserts, valleys, mountain ranges. Rich in biodiversity. Sacred lands that are central to the creation story of so many tribes that have been here since time immemorial.
Look, you know, it’s a place of reverence. It is a place of spirituality. And it is a place of healing. And now it will be recognized for its importance and will be preserved forever. Forever. (Applause.)
And I’m looking forward to visiting myself.
I want to thank my friends in Congress who fought so hard to make this day possible: Senators Jacky Rosen. (Applause.) Catherine Cortez Masto. Representatives Susie Lee, Dina Titus. (Applause.)
And a special thanks to you, Mr. President, for your collaboration.
Look, the second thing we’re doing is protecting the Castner Range in Texas as a national monument. (Applause.)
Thank you, Veronica Escobar, Representative, for your leadership on this. (Applause.) Now, I hope you still have reason to call me, because you called me a lot on this case. I-(laughs)-
This is run by the United States Army at Fort Bliss, and tells the story of the Tribal Nations who lived there and the members of our Armed Forces who trained on those lands.
It is also a place of incredible beauty. And right now, right now, as winter turns to spring, the Mexican golden poppies are blooming. You see, I wish, what I wanted to do was have all of this on video behind me here because, (laughs), because when you see it, it’s just awesome. Transforming desert plains and hills into a sea of vibrant yellows and oranges, framed by rugged mountains and blue skies.
The people of El Paso have fought to protect this for 50 years. Your work has finally paid off. (Applause.) And now we’re going to clear the area of old munitions, create access to the outdoors for communities and parks, and go to — green spaces that — are getting harder to find. And most importantly, the Castner Range will be preserved for future generations.
Friends, the third thing we’re going to do today is — I’m — I’m issuing a presidential memorandum directing the Secretary of Commerce to immediately consider designating 777,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean southwest of Hawaii as a new — (applause). .. like a new — new national marine sanctuary.
You know, (applause), it’s an area larger than Alaska and Colorado combined and three times the size of Texas. That is not a small amount of land. (Laughter.) (Inaudible.)
It would make it the largest ocean area on the planet with the highest level of protection. (Applause.) And it will help us reach our conservation goal, the goal I set for myself when I was elected, to protect and conserve 30 percent of our oceans. (Applause.)
It is a network of islands and reefs where the waters are teeming with — most diversity — the most diverse marine life on the planet — marine life on the planet: sharks, rays, billfish, tuna, turtles, whales, ancient coral forests —many that are threatened and endangered right now, but won’t be.
And I want to thank Brian, Senator Brian Schatz and Mazie, Mazie, where are you?
SENATOR HIRONO: Here.
THE PRESIDENT: There it is. (Applause.) There — I mean — (applause) — Mazie —
Representative — and Representatives Ed Case and Jill
Kotuda [Tokuda] — (applause) — and many — and many Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander leaders — you know, look — who have worked tirelessly to protect our oceans. I want to thank you.
I mean, I’m serious. Thank you. there would not be
it happened without you.
And that’s not all we’re doing today. Earlier, you heard Secretary Haaland announce that she is taking steps to modernize the management of America’s public lands to put conservation on an equal footing with development, to safeguard more places for people to hike, hunt, camp and fish.
And we’re going to move it forward today with a strategy to conserve, to conserve wildlife corridors across agencies and across our landscape.
Whether it’s the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, or private landowners, we need to be coordinated to make sure that the habitats we’re conserving along migration routes, no matter where or who is charge of that land.
And today, we’re launching the first US Ocean Climate Action Plan to harness the tremendous power of the ocean to help in our fight against the climate: climate crisis.
We know — (applause) — we know, and you well know that we can reduce emissions by building offshore wind farms, better protect our coastal and fishing communities from worsening storms, changing fish, changing fishing, and other impacts on climate change.
And, and I’m also committed to working with tribal leaders here, as well as Senator Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, and Representative Mike Simpson, to bring healthy and abundant salmon back to the
Colorado [Columbia] river system. (Applause.)
Let me close with this. The natural treasures of our country define our identity as a nation. They are a birthright, they are a birthright that we must pass down from generation to generation. They unite us.
This is why our conservation work is so important. It provides a bridge to our past and to our future, not just for today, but for all ages.
Rachel Carson, environmentalist and author, wrote and I quote: “Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will last as long as life lasts.”
I share with all of you here today an enduring reverence for the power and promise of the country’s extraordinary natural wonders. And they are extraordinary.
When I was vice president, I went to most of the national parks and brought my family because I wanted them to see them. Coming down the Colorado River, the Snake River. Just amazing, amazing, amazing places.
But we have to keep it going. We have to keep the faith. We have to remember who we are. We are the United States of America. And we owe it to our children, to our grandchildren, to our great-great-grandchildren, and to all who will come what we have and what we can preserve. There is nothing beyond our capacity if we work together.
So, God bless you all. And may God protect our troops. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you, Joe!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you! It’s a good day. (Applause.) Thank you, thank you, thank you.
1:52 p.m. EDT