450 State and Local Elected Officials Declare Support for Protecting 30% of America’s Land and Ocean by 2030

Courtnee Connon, 727-744-4163, courtnee_connon@lcv.org

Officials nationwide join President Biden in Committing to a “30x30” National Conservation Goal 

Washington D.C. – In anticipation of President Joe Biden following through with a national commitment to conserve at least 30 percent of the lands, waters, and ocean in our country by 2030, 450 state and local elected officials from across the nation joined together to show their support for confronting America’s nature and climate crises by pursuing this 30×30 goal. 

The state and local leaders’ open letter comes at a time of growing momentum for 30×30 as President Biden begins to implement his agenda. Biden ran and won on the most ambitious climate and nature conservation platform of any president in history, including committing to 30×30 in his Climate and Tribal Nations plans, in which he acknowledged the opportunity to “leverage natural climate solutions” and “work with tribal governments and Congress to protect sacred sites and public lands and waters with high conservation and cultural values.”  Congresswoman and Interior Secretary-designate Deb Haaland led the 30×30 resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives, further demonstrating the administration’s commitment to achieving these conservation goals. 

In the states, 30×30 legislation has been introduced in places such as South Carolina, Hawaii, and New York, while California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed an executive order to preserve 30% of the state’s lands and waters and Maine Governor Janet Mills’ new Climate Action Plan includes a 30% land conservation target

“Throughout my career, I’ve been proud to support policies that preserve our farmland, historic places, parks and open spaces like those in the area I represent. By protecting 30% of our nation’s land and ocean, together, we can build on our conservation legacy, and preserve these precious places for generations to come,” said State Senator Kip Bateman (R-NJ).

“Protecting our environment is not only critical to mitigating the effects of climate change, but to preserving our communities that benefit from protected lands and oceans as well. That’s why I am excited to work with my fellow legislators in the Massachusetts General Court, tribal leaders, local elected officials across the nation, and the Biden Administration to protect and preserve our wildlife and natural spaces for generations to come,” said State Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-MA).

“Rapid growth and urban expansion threaten the very soul of SC House District 80 as well as the quality of life and economies of communities across South Carolina and the nation. That’s why I’m proud to stand with other state and local leaders in calling for protecting an unprecedented amount of land and water and create a more equitable and inclusive vision for conservation with the 30×30 initiative. Current and future generations depend on us to protect the working forests and family farms that sustain rural economies, the wildlife habitats that provide places to experience the wonder of creation, and the historic and cultural sites that tell the story of our State and her residents. We must act now,” said State Representative Dr. Jermaine Johnson (D-SC).

“Protecting 30 by 30 is crucial to ensuring the health, access to nature, and sustained economy of our communities,” said State Representative Mary Ann Dunwell (D-MT).

The letter from state and local elected officials calls for an ambitious and inclusive movement and outlines six critical aspects of achieving a national goal of 30×30: more equitably distributing nature’s benefits; honoring the sovereignty of tribal nations; supporting locally-led conservation; protecting wildlife and biodiversity; supporting private conservation; and being guided by science.  

The national goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and ocean is widely supported by people in this country. 86 percent of voters in the U.S. support a national 30×30 goal and 95 percent of people in the U.S. support establishing marine protected areas. Tribal leaders, environmental groups, outdoor recreation companies like Patagonia, faith groups, and aquaria have all declared their support for this ambitious conservation goal. 

“We are thrilled to see President Biden making such a historic and ambitious commitment to conserve our lands and ocean and applaud these local and state elected officials on their leadership,” said League of Conservation Voters’ Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel. “Achieving 30×30 gives us the opportunity to make access to nature in this country more inclusive and equitable and we are all-in to help reach and exceed this goal.”

These leaders are heeding scientists’ call to protect at least 30% of the planet’s land and ocean by 2030 as a vital response to a steep decline in nature. More than a million species are now at risk of extinction around the world. A football field’s worth of natural area disappears to development here in the United States every 30 seconds. And climate change is imperiling the health of people, our lands, and our ocean. That is why scientists are advocating for 30×30 in order to safely sequester more carbon in our forests, soils and wetlands; ensure that the natural systems on which we depend for food, oxygen and other essential services are sustained; and prevent mass extinctions. According to one study, the United States has protected 12 percent of its land and 26 percent of its ocean territory, though much of those protected areas are located in the far western Pacific Ocean. Another study documented that communities of color are more than three times as likely as white communities to be nature deprived, which is why it is critical that new land and ocean protections yield a more equitable distribution of nature’s benefits to people.  

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) coordinated signatories with the support of state partners in the Conservation Voter Movement and the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, which empowers a non-partisan network of  legislators to develop equitable state environmental policies. More information about 30×30 is available here: https://www.natureamerica.org/ 

Read the full letter here.

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