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.

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

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