By Hollie Conde, Public Lands and Legislative Coordinator
Earlier this year, the Biden administration laid out plans to conserve 30 percent of our land and water by 2030. Known as the America the Beautiful Initiative, or 30×30, the goal is to safeguard America’s lands, water, and wildlife, supporting the efforts of people across the country, including rural communities, Tribal Nations, private landowners, and others on the frontline of conservation, stewardship, and restoration. Collaboration, a willingness to listen and understand different perspectives, and good-faith conversations between all Americans will be required to achieve 30×30 and solve our nature and climate crises.
The White House released six priority areas to address in the early stages of the initiative.
- Creating more parks and safe outdoor opportunities in nature-deprived communities.
- Supporting Tribally led conservation and restoration priorities.
- Expanding collaborative conservation of fish and wildlife habitats and corridors.
- Increasing access for outdoor recreation.
- Incentivizing and rewarding the voluntary conservation efforts of fishers, ranchers, farmers, and forest owners.
- Creating jobs by investing in restoration and resilience projects and initiatives, including the Civilian Climate Corps.
The City of Boise has taken the lead in creating actionable plans on 30×30. Last month, Boise City Council President Elaine Clegg announced the City of Trees Challenge, a program that will get more trees in the ground to help clean our air, purify stormwater, lower temperature, and reduce energy costs. We hope other Idaho communities will follow suit in creating their own programs.
The 30×30 plan emphasizes collaboration. The administration will need help from all levels of government, tribal nations, and private landowners. In Idaho, a state with roughly 62 percent of its land in public ownership, private conservation efforts will be crucial. Conserving 30 percent must support the role private landowners and rural communities play in conservation, which have long been a bulwark against the decline of nature. Urban sprawl and commercial development eats into our state’s farmland, ranchland, and private working forests — all of which curb the negative effects of climate change. For years, Idaho’s farmers, anglers, ranchers, and private landowners have proven themselves as some of the most effective conservationists. We need to support private landowners committed to protecting their property by providing the tools, financial resources, and incentives necessary to restore degraded natural areas and manage private resources sustainably.
It is important to dispel any misinformation about the 30×30 campaign. This is not a land grab. The federal government will absolutely not come in and take over private lands. That narrative is blatantly false, and in a state like Idaho, can be detrimental to all protection efforts – whether on private or public land. Private land conservation, using tools like easements, has always been voluntary. 30×30 is a critical opportunity to support private landowners committed to protecting their property and Idaho’s land, whether it is public or private. The initiative provides financial resources and incentives for landowners to restore degraded natural areas and manage their resources sustainably. It is a win. Conservation does not pay attention to property lines, and multiple use — long touted as the Idaho way — plays an important role. Conservation is just as useful on private land as public.
30×30 recognizes that nature is the backbone of rural communities and we need to be supporting efforts to safeguard lands, waters, and wildlife. By relying on local experts who use and love our public lands—from ranchers and fishers to conservationists, recreationists, hunters, and anglers—30×30 can meet the scale of the challenges facing nature while preserving these traditional and sustainable activities. Together, we can safeguard the jobs, livelihoods, cultures, and recreation access our communities rely on for future generations.