President Biden’s Order to Protect 30 Percent of the Nation’s Land Could Be a Massive Win for Fish and Wildlife—If Hunters, Anglers, Farmers, Tribes Have a Say
Sportsmen's and women's groups are cautiously optimistic about the president's order to conserve 30 percent of the nation's land by 2030. (John Hafner/)
Among dozens of executive orders President Joe Biden signed his first weeks in office, the one that caught most conservation organizations’ attention was aimed at slowing climate change by conserving wildlands. While Executive Order 14008′s stop on all new oil and gas leasing on federal lands drew the most buzz, another portion, often called 30 by 30, or even 3030, is drawing the most interest from the nation’s sportsmen and women.
The order is to conserve 30 percent of the country’s land and 30 percent of its coastal waters by 2030. Right now, the USGS estimates about 12 percent of the country’s land is permanently conserved and 23 percent of its coastal waters are “strongly protected.” The goal is to conserve more wild land to reduce the effects of climate change (through carbon sequestration) and slow species loss. It coincides with a similar global effort put forth by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
Hunters and anglers have their questions. Where’s the other 18 percent going to come from? And what does “conserved” land actually mean? No one is sure just yet. But here’s what we do know so far.
The effort will be spearheaded by the nation’s Interior, Agriculture, and Commerce departments along with the Council on Environmental Quality. The Department of Interior—which manages more than 440 million acres of public land, largely in the form of National Parks, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges, and Bureau of Land Management land—is not ready to give interviews yet, according to Interior’s press secretary Tyler Cherry. A fact sheet on the Interior’s website states the goal is meant “to safeguard our health, food supplies, biodiversity, and the prosperity of every community.”
Currently the U.S. is losing about a football field of habitat every 30 seconds to development, so adding conserved land that would amass to roughly twice the size of Texas is going to be a challenge.