Assessing Biden's '30 by 30' Conservation Plan

The president's ambitious commitment to protect 30% of U.S. land and water by 2030 might be too broad in attempting to satisfy all land users.

2 minute read

July 9, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Open Space

Skye Watts / Shutterstock

In the days after his inauguration, President Biden made a "commitment to protecting 30% of U.S. land and water — over 720 million acres — by 2030." But, as Wufei Yu reports in High Country News, a preliminary report by the Department of Interior has made "Western and Indigenous climate activists and conservationists fear that it promises too much and could hamper conservation by trying too hard to please all the various land users."

Yu writes:

In order to tackle three challenges — the disappearance of nature, climate change and inequitable access to the outdoors — the report laid out a locally led, science-based and collaborative road map toward achieving “30 by 30.” As part of it, the Biden administration invited farmers, ranchers and fishermen to get involved, promising to maintain ranching in the West “as an important and proud way of life.” The report also acknowledged the conservation movement’s discriminatory past, including its appropriation of Native American ancestral land and neglect of communities of color, and it vowed to work toward a more inclusive future.

"Many conservationists pointed out, however, that, according to the America the Beautiful report, farming, grazing and logging could count as conservation under the 30% designation if the land is managed with “the long-term health and sustainability of natural systems” in mind." These solutions, some argue, "only kick the can of problems down the road." States, Yu writes, have to take action too. "Historically, most conservation projects happen on the region’s public lands. So far, two states have hopped on board. Nevada became the first to pass legislation adopting the conservation goal, while California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that will establish listening sessions with tribal members and private landowners regarding the project."

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 in High Country News

Red on white 'Room for Rent, Inquire Inside' sign

In Most U.S. Cities, Archaic Laws Limit Roommate Living

Critics argue laws preventing unrelated adults from living in the same home fail to understand the modern American household.

May 24, 2023 - The Atlantic

Vancouver Chuck Wolfe

Ten Signs of a Resurgent Downtown

In GeekWire, Chuck Wolfe continues his exploration of a holistic and practical approach to post-pandemic urban center recovery, anchored in local context and community-driven initiatives that promote livability, safety, and sustainability.

May 24, 2023 - GeekWire

New York MTA subway station

Off-Peak is the New On-Peak

Public transit systems in major U.S. cities are starting to focus on non-rush hour travelers as pre-pandemic commuting patterns shift and transportation needs change.

May 19, 2023 - Curbed

Nighttime view of Tacoma, Washington skyline

Tacoma Coalition Calls for ‘Tenants’ Bill of Rights’

The group wants to put more power in the hands of tenants, but the city has its own, competing proposal for addressing the housing crisis.

May 26 - The Urbanist

Wind turbines sillhouetted against a sunset sky along roadway in New Mexico

New Power Transmission Line Approved in the Southwest

The proposed transmission line will transfer wind-produced power from New Mexico to cities in Arizona and California.

May 26 - U.S. News And World Report

Aerial view of 238 freeway in Oakland, California cutting through neighborhood with small houses

The Limitations of ‘Reconnecting Communities’

The Biden administration has pledged to correct the damage imposed on communities by highways and infrastructure, but many projects are only committing to minor improvements, not transformative changes.

May 26 - The New York Times

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.