Conservationists See 2022 as Critical Year for 30x30 Initiative
Thursday, December 23, 2021
Conservationists say significant progress was made in 2021 toward the goals of the 30x30 Initiative, to have 30% of the world's land and oceans protected by the end of this decade.
The Biden Administration embraced the plan and issued a first-year progress report this week, outlining its accomplishments over the past 12 months.
Aaron Weiss, deputy director of the Center for Western Priorities, said while the president was able to move forward on goals set for Utah and other Western states, much of the year was spent just catching up.
"A lot of 2021 was about reversing the damage of the Trump years," Weiss pointed out. "Things like restoring Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante. Now that those things have happened, the question is: what will President Biden do to create the conservation legacy of his own?"
The report recaps progress on Biden's America the Beautiful initiative, adopting the goals of 30x30 to protect and restore nature, increase outdoors access and engage tribal nations. It outlines future actions to preserve the economic and environmental value of public lands in the face of climate change.
Weiss noted state and local leaders are urging Biden to move on his own under the Antiquities Act to preserve endangered areas without waiting on Congress.
"Places like Kastner Range in Texas, Chumash Heritage off the California coast, Avi Kwa Ame in Nevada," Weiss outlined. "There are a number of these proposals where local leaders are calling on the president to use his authority to protect these areas for future generations."
Weiss added despite sporadic opposition to the plan, the vast majority of citizens see the importance of preserving high-value public lands and waters in Utah and other Western states.
"Even in Utah, there's widespread support for restoring Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante because folks know that's what economies are built on in much of the rural West," Weiss contended.
Biden's goals include developing locally led conservation efforts, equitable and inclusive standards for conservation, sovereignty of tribal and indigenous communities, private land conservation, and actions guided by science.
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