Biden Administration Releases America The Beautiful plan to Reach 30×30

Image: Jared Lung/Pexels

by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer

On Thursday, the Biden administration announced detailed steps to protect 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030. The report, titled “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful,” calls for a 10-year commitment to making conservation and restoration a priority. 

The plan details strategies to purify drinking water, increase green space, improve access to outdoor recreation, restore healthy fisheries, reduce the risk of wildfires. It will also begin to acknowledge the “oversized contributions” of farmers, ranchers, forest owners, fishers, hunters, rural communities, and tribal nations. 

Environmentalists, advocates, companies, and workers are celebrating the announcement, which comes after months of urging the President to fully commit to 30×30.

Why This Matters: Experts say that without protecting 30% of the world’s lands and waters by 2030, the world doesn’t stand a chance at meeting the goals of the Paris agreement and halt catastrophic temperature increase by 2050.

  • Conservationists have emphasized the need to protect wildlife, as an estimated one million species are currently endangered, risking not only ecosystems but the wellbeing of the humans and economies that depend on them.
  • Only 13% of oceans can be classified as wilderness due to the abundance of human activity.
  • Deforestation increased in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, releasing billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

The Trump administration made countless attacks on public lands, rolling back protections and encouraging development. To undo that damage, the U.S. must set ambitious objectives and back them up with ambitious strategies. Currently, about 12% of the nation’s lands and 25% of its waters are protected, but with this massive commitment, stakeholders across the spectrum have hope that the U.S. will achieve 30×30.

The Game Plan: Proponents are heralding this plan as the most significant conservation statute in the last 50 years. In its entirety, the plan will create thousands of jobs for pandemic recovery while also focusing on climate justice for disadvantaged communities. 

As Brian O’Donnell, Director, Campaign for Nature said:

“We are encouraged by this plan to implement the first-ever national conservation goal.  Safeguarding nature is essential for a healthy planet and economy. We have a limited window to halt the loss of open space and wildlife, and protect the land, oceans and freshwater that we cherish in this country.   

Science has shown that without an ambitious conservation agenda, fish and wildlife populations will face declines, there will be fewer opportunities for outdoor recreation, and the services that we rely on nature for, such as clean water and storm protection, will be diminished. A brighter future is attainable if we choose to protect at least 30% of our lands and oceans by 2030.”

The new statute builds on the previously passed Great American Outdoors Act, which dedicated $3 billion to outdoor recreation, conservation, and maintenance of public lands. While the report did not include costs, several Biden administration promises were touched on, including:

  • Increasing access to outdoor recreation and parks in nature-deprived communities.
  • Supporting Tribally led conservation and restoration priorities.
  • Expanding collaborative conservation of fish and wildlife habitats.
  • Incentivizing voluntary conservation efforts by fishers, ranchers, farmers, and forest managers.
  • Creating jobs by investing in restoration initiatives, including the Civilian Climate Corps.

Experts say that many of these projects could be paid for with departmental budgets, but the plan relies on voluntary conservation efforts from stakeholders.

The report was signed by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. Haaland, who recently toured two National Monuments that the Trump administration shrank, said, “Nature plays an important role in improving resilience to climate change and creating a thriving economy. ‘America the Beautiful’ is the beginning of an important effort that we can only do together.″ 86% of American voters back the 30×30 goal, and experts and advocates agree.

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