August 22, 2022

What is happening with the state’s 30×30 initiative?

The New Mexico Reforestation Center would include a nursery to produce seedlings for reforestation.

New Mexico’s 30×30 committee is working on defining terms and collecting information from the public with only four months left before the annual report is due to the governor.

The state’s initiative is running parallel to a federal initiative known as America the Beautiful. Both have the goal of conserving 30 percent of land by 2030 and designating another 20 percent set aside for climate stabilization.

Sarah Cottrell Propst, the secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, attended the New Mexico State Game Commission’s meeting on Friday to present an update on the initiative.

EMNRD is one of seven state agencies that, along with the State Lands Office, are represented on the advisory committee.

Cottrell Propst said the committee is working to come up with definitions for what conserved means and what the climate stabilization lands entail. She said those definitions will be announced soon and public comment will be accepted regarding the draft definitions.

The climate stabilization lands will have the ability to store a lot of carbon, she said.

“People think that 30×30 is brand new,” Cottrell Propst said. “But really a lot of our work is just taking stock of all the good work that we’re already doing and the programs that exist and seeing how far that gets us.”

Those existing programs include things like the Forest and Watershed Restoration Act and the Healthy Soil Program.

New Mexico’s 30×30 initiative started last year with an executive order from the governor, which also established an advisory committee.

Related: Governor signs 30×30 executive order

One of the biggest concerns surrounding the initiative has been private property rights. Cottrell Propst said the initiative will not interfere with those rights.

She said conservation activity will continue to occur on private land on a voluntary basis.

“We just want good stewards of the land to get credit for what they’re doing,” she said.

Currently, the public is being asked to provide input on what conservation activities are occurring in their communities, how they feel about conservation, how they would personally define conservation and what state agencies can do to improve conservation programs. Responses are due by Aug. 25 and can be submitted by filling out this survey

Another request for information will be released next month that will include the draft definitions for conserved lands and climate stabilization lands. This RFI will ask for public input on those definitions.