On May 6, the Biden Administration released a report titled Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful 2021 which outlines recommendations to achieve the administration’s goal of conserving 30 percent of our nation’s lands and waters by 2030, also known as 30 by 30. This report is a requirement of Executive Order (EO) 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, signed on January 27, 2021. EO 14008 calls for the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Chair of the Council on Environmental Equality and the Secretaries of Agriculture and Commerce, to submit recommendations to the National Climate Task Force on how the federal government can work with state, local and tribal governments along with other key stakeholders to achieve the 30 by 30 goal. The key recommendations and principles in this report are known as the “America the Beautiful” Initiative.
The leadership of NACo’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Environment, Energy and Land Use and Public Lands Steering Committee as well as the Rural Action Caucus and Western Interstate Region (WIR), met with representatives of the relevant federal agencies as a part of this consultation process. Additionally, WIR President Greg Chilcott participated in the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Republican Member forum on the 30 by 30 plan.
During these consultation meetings, counties placed heavy emphasis on voluntary conservation efforts, improving the relationship between federal agencies and local officials to meet shared environmental stewardship goals, and ensuring the definition of conservation is broadly tailored to support watershed health and forest management projects.
The report provides six areas of early focus for the administration. These six recommendations are:
- Create more parks and safe outdoor opportunities in nature-deprived communities.
- Support tribally led conservation and restoration priorities.
- Expand collaborative conservation of fish and wildlife habitats and corridors.
- Increase access for outdoor recreation.
- Incentivize and reward the voluntary conservation efforts of fishers, ranchers, farmers and forest owners.
- Create jobs by investing in restoration and resilience.
Additionally, the report outlines eight principles that will guide the focus of the America the Beautiful initiative which are:
- Pursue a collaborative and inclusive approach to conservation.
- Conserve America’s lands and waters for the benefit of all people.
- Support locally led and locally designed conservation efforts.
- Honor tribal sovereignty and support the priorities of tribal nations.
- Pursue conservation and restoration approaches that create jobs and support healthy communities.
- Honor private property rights and support the voluntary stewardship efforts of private landowners and fishers.
- Use science as a guide.
- Build on existing tools and strategies with an emphasis on flexibility and adaptive approaches.
Counties support federal conservation policies developed in coordination with intergovernmental partners that meet local environmental and economic needs. Counties also believe the federal government should provide financial and other incentives to support the most cost-effective planning and management programs to meet federal conservation goals while respecting private property rights.
On May 13, NACo sent a letter to the President, Chair of the Council on Environmental Equality and the Secretaries of Interior, Agriculture and Commerce detailing county concerns and priorities in the implementation of 30x30.
NACo will continue to engage with the Administration on these issues and keep members informed of any updates.