The Mountain Pact, an organization that works with local elected officials in more than 80 communities across the Western United States have released a report entitled Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful – Now is the Time – Western Mountain Communities Working to Achieve the 30×30 Goal that highlights examples from all 11 Western states on what Western mountain communities are doing to conserve nature and contribute to the America the Beautiful Initiative.
The report offers recommendations for on-the-ground conservation work, policy recommendations, as well as strategies and projects to help achieve the goals of the America the Beautiful effort.
The initiative is in response to scientists telling us that worldwide biodiversity is deteriorating at a faster rate than at any time in human history. From 2001 to 2017, more than 24 million acres of land were lost to human development in the lower 48 United States, which equals the loss of one football field-sized patch of land every 30 seconds.
In fact, many scientists continue to warn that we must conserve and restore at least 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030 if we want to preserve biodiversity and ecosystems, support an increasing global population, and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Through an executive order in January, President Biden announced his administration’s goal to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and water by 2030 (commonly referred to as 30×30). Then in May, the administration followed up on the executive order by issuing a report, Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful, which recommends “a ten-year locally-led campaign to restore the lands and waters upon which we all depend, and that binds us together as Americans.”
America the Beautiful is a bold, science-based initiative that includes the 30×30 goal, the first-ever national conservation goal to address the twin threats of climate change and the rapid loss of biodiversity and safeguard America’s lands, water, and wildlife. It supports the conservation efforts of people across the country in rural and coastal communities, Tribal Nations, private landowners, and many others on the frontlines of conserving, stewarding, restoring, using, and enjoying nature.
There is overwhelming support for action. Recent polling found that 77 percent of voters in the Rocky Mountain West support this initiative. Many local governing bodies across the West have passed resolutions supporting the America the Beautiful initiative and the 30×30 goal.
Reaching the America the Beautiful goal does not involve a one-size fits all approach. Different communities around the country will develop conservation strategies that reflect their unique needs and interests and efforts to reach the America the Beautiful goal will rely on varied and flexible approaches.
The Mountain Pact report presents a small sample of land preservation and climate action projects that Western mountain communities have completed, or are working on, and ideas for future projects and policy prescriptions that can help the nation achieve the ambitious conservation targets.
The projects described in the report range from locally focused conservation efforts to securing federal land designations, but in no way do they represent the full spectrum of ideas for advancing conservation.
The Mountain Pact hopes these examples will spark new thinking in communities across the country and inspire people to develop new projects and policies that can help address the nature crisis.