Conservation Road Map Falls Short
On January 27, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order committing his administration “to achieve the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.” That’s an ambitious goal. The U.S. currently conserves around 26 percent of its coastal waters and about 12 percent of its land in a largely natural state, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The administration’s target, often referred to as “30 by 30”, is backed by conservationists and scientists who argue that reaching this goal is critical to fighting climate change and protecting the estimated one million species at risk of going extinct.
In a May 6 report entitled “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful,” the administration put forth a preliminary report on how it plans to meet this goal. Unfortunately, the report falls short on providing a meaningful path forward. PEER Board member Rick Steiner notes that the report “concedes that it does not intend to protect more federal lands or waters itself, but instead will simply support ‘voluntary’ local efforts to ‘conserve’ working lands and waters.”
Steiner points out that “local conservation efforts are essential, but alone cannot protect the large ecosystems necessary for habitat and biodiversity. For that, we need bold action at the federal level to establish new, large-scale, strongly protected national parks, wildlife refuges, and monuments, both onshore and offshore, and the Biden plan entirely omits this necessary component.”
We agree. That’s why we’re working to support real efforts to strengthen federal conservation programs. Our proposals include increasing the amount of park wilderness in the National Park Service, implementing a green parks program that was abandoned under the Obama administration, reforming the BLM’s grazing program, reining in destructive recreation on federal lands, and increasing the number of Marine Monuments.
Fighting climate change and the extinction crises requires more than voluntary local actions – they require these types of bold federal actions. We hope you will join us in making our vision a reality.
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