Updated March 2022
Updated March 2022
The Biden Administration’s preliminary report on their “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful” plan to conserve 30 percent of lands and waters in the United States by the year 2030.
In one of his first executive orders, President Biden instructed the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Interior (DOI) to conduct stakeholder outreach and develop a plan to conserve 30 percent of lands and waters by the year 2030. The executive order required DOI to submit a report with recommendations within 90 days. On May 6, 2021, the Biden Administration made public its report regarding the 30×30 initiative, renamed the effort “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful.” The report outlines first steps in the administration’s effort to conserve 30 percent of lands and waters by the year 2030.
The “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful” initiative calls for development of a 10-year conservation strategy that focuses on:
Additional report recommendations include:
The report also called for the creation of an interagency working group.
On January 4, 2022, the Administration released a draft conservation “Atlas”, which is intended to guide the way the Administration will catalog and quantify national conservation efforts. The debut of the draft Atlas follows publication of the America the Beautiful Interagency Working Group’s first annual report, released at the end of 2021.
MSGA stands firm on the protection of private property rights.
Initial meetings with Montana’s congressional offices, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Forest Service (USFS), US Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) have taken place to discuss the proposal and MSGA’s initial thoughts and concerns. In this ambitious proposal, and in order for the Administration to achieve success, they must have farmers and ranchers at the table. Cattle, and cattle producers, must be part of the solution as existing leaders in the American conservation model. MSGA continues to work through its national affiliates to have ongoing dialogue with USDA and DOI. We also continue to advocate that the interagency working group should include representation from private property owners and public land lessees.
We believe the Administration must recognize a baseline where good practices have already resulted in meaningful conservation: this proposal must not start from “zero”. In defining “conservation”, there must be an accounting for what is already done: conservation easements, utilization of federal conservation practices, adoption of the innovative approaches that support healthy ecosystems, and more. The administration should also take a broad view of conservation so that good practices are rewarded (by being counted) and are encouraged in the future – as part of this proposal, or during the normal course of daily activities.
There are a wide variety of state and federal programs that target conservation initiatives that should also be accounted for and encouraged: wildlife habitat recovery, fuels treatments to improve forest and rangeland health, cooperative agreements that take a landscape-level view.
Finally, there should be recognition that some conservation activities may have very little federal interaction. Cattle producers make incredible investments on both private and public lands that are already considered conservation activities. These investments include one-time actions (easements, installation of water features, riparian support, invasive species treatments) but also ongoing practices that support biodiversity and landscape resilience (grazing management, prescribed fire, and more). These activities should be recognized and encouraged.
MSGA recommends the Administration not use this proposal as a way to substantially expand the land and water that the federal government owns. The government already owns a significant portion of landscapes across the West, and further expansion would disincentivize involvement for many communities. With respect to private lands, the government should refrain from any infringement of property rights or ownership. Voluntary conservation should be encouraged. Grazing should be used as a tool to improve existing federal lands, rather than further federal acquisition.