President Joe Biden has called for preserving 30 percent of the lands and waters in the United States by 2030 and, on Thursday, his administration released a report outlining how this could be accomplished.
The report released on Thursday, called Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful 2021, states that three problems must be addressed to protect lands and waters—the disappearance of nature, climate change and inequitable access to the outdoors.
The America the Beautiful report lists building more parks and outdoor spaces in areas with limited access to nature as one of the tools to reaching that goal.
The America the Beautiful report released Thursday outlines eight principles:
- Pursuing a collaborative and inclusive approach to conservation
- Conserving lands and waters for the benefit of all people
- Supporting locally-led and designed conservation efforts
- Honoring tribal sovereignty and supporting the priorities of tribal nations
- Pursuing approaches that create jobs and support healthy communities
- Honoring private property rights and supporting voluntary stewardship efforts by landowners
- Using science as a guide
- Emphasizing flexibility and adaptive approaches while building on existing tools and strategies
Greg Peters, public lands and wildlife advocate for Conservation Voters of New Mexico, said in an email to NM Political Report that state action will be needed to make the 30 percent by 2030 goal a reality. Peters said New Mexico can build on the success of landmark legislation like the Energy Transition Act, the creation of the Outdoor Recreation Division and the Outdoor Equity Fund.
“New Mexico has proven that we understand the need to include environmental justice and equity in transformational statewide policies,” he said.
Additionally, Peters said that conserving lands and waters will help New Mexico become more resilient to wildfires, floods, storms and other impacts of climate change.
“We already have all the tools in the toolbox and the wisdom to get it done; our tribal communities – the original land managers – have centuries of experience that can and should be relied upon,” Peters said. “Farming and ranching communities have land management traditions that have been passed down for generations. And we know that investments in conservation, like the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and outdoor recreation can have enormous economic impact on our rural and urban communities.”
He said efforts in New Mexico should be shaped so that they support rural and tribal communities, maintain access to public lands and waterways, respect private property rights, expand the outdoor recreation economy and preserve cultural traditions including farming, ranching, hunting and fishing.
“If we are successful, future generations of New Mexicans will reap the benefits of a sustainable economy, adequate water supplies, clean air, open, natural lands and abundant wildlife,” he said.
The proposal was met with backlash from Republicans. Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee hosted a discussion on Wednesday that was streamed live on YouTube criticizing the plan, which they called a “government land grab.”