Having seen several federal environmental policy initiatives over the past few decades, supporting all the way back to my experience as an intern in the 1990s National Commission on EnvironmentThe challenge of an executive branch-led implementation initiative is the art and science of harnessing existing programs and crafting new bipartisan legislation that advances governance priorities within the checks and balances of our three-branch governing structure.
was originally dubbed 30×30 Initiative, the America the Beautiful The campaign is essentially a January 2021 reframing and rebranding executive Order, helping to move from an ambitious goal to an initiative that can be implemented on the ground. as i mentioned in my previous blog, 30×30 was intended to address the lack of a clear, common vision for conservation and the need for a process with broad public engagement to ensure that federal investment in conservation reflects the priorities of all communities.
In his efforts to transform from inspirational to practical, he has proposed establishing a “American Conservation and Management Atlas” to hold data on lands and waters managed for conservation and restoration, and to produce a “State of Nature” annual report. Early release by the end of 2021). The America the Beautiful report good Citing a lack of consensus on the definition of conservation and how to measure progress towards the goal, conservation of 30% of America’s land and water by 2030 remains a stated goal in the report’s conclusion.
Despite the lack of specificity to measure the percentage target, the report outlines six priority areas for the administration’s initial focus, investment and collaboration:
- Creating more parks and safe outdoor opportunities in nature-deprived communities.
- Supporting tribal-led conservation and restoration opportunities.
- Expanding collaborative conservation of fish and wildlife habitats and corridors.
- Increasing access to outdoor entertainment.
- To encourage and reward voluntary conservation efforts of fishermen, livestock farmers, farmers and forest owners.
- Creating jobs by investing in restoration and resilience projects and initiatives, including the Civilian Climate Corps.
One of the most interesting details, which was capped by the January 2021 executive order’s emphasis on the 30×30 target, is the administration’s commitment to ensuring that 40% of total benefits from federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities. . Justice 40 InitiativeAmerica the Beautiful report specifically cites the National Park Service’s Outdoor Recreation Heritage Partnership (ORLP) as a program worthy of expansion to help deliver on this commitment. Established in 2014 and administered through the National Park Service, the ORLP program is funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The ORLP program provides grants to urban areas with no access to outdoor recreation, with priority to projects located in economically disadvantaged areas.
America’s Eight Principles Beautiful Initiative
- Principle 1: Adopt a collaborative and inclusive approach to conservation
- Principle 2: Conserve America’s land and water for the benefit of all
- Principle 3: Support local leadership and locally designed conservation efforts
- Principle 4: Respect tribal sovereignty and support the priorities of tribal nations
- Principle 5: Adopt conservation and restoration approaches that create jobs and support healthy communities
- Principle 6: Respect private property rights and support voluntary management efforts of private landowners and fishermen
- Principle 7: Use Science as a Guide
- Principle 8: Build on existing tools and strategies with an emphasis on flexibility and adaptive approaches
The report also cited several existing federal programs that could support implementation, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Working Lands for Wildlife program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System. and the re-authorization of the Farm Bill in 2023.
But the most obvious focus of implementing all these six priority areas is bipartisan great american outdoor act and LWCF. LWCF was created by Congress in 1964 to support land conservation efforts and improve access to recreation in America, you know these places well – from vast areas of majestic forests, to parts of national parks and your local parks and trails, to wildlife refuges like Grand Teton and Okefenokee.
The Conservation Fund has helped federal, state and local partners advance many LWCF projects. More recently, our efforts have supported the NPS’s protection of a major asset within Grand Teton National Park. in wyoming Which preserves the iconic landscape of the Teton Range, prevents residential development and protects important habitat for a variety of wildlife. Photo by David Stubbs.
LWCF is the source of funding for nine different federal programs. It includes the land acquisition programs of four federal agencies:
and includes five federal grant programs for state and local efforts to provide:
- Match grants through the State and Local Assistance Program to achieve and develop recreational priorities such as local parks and preserves;
- forest heritage program to fund the conservation of both state and private working forestlands;
- and other programs, including preserving a non-federally owned american battlefield site.
LWCF has funded more than 45,000 conservation projects in every state and nearly every county in the US, including projects Recently completed by the Conservation Fund. In August 2020, funding for the LWCF nearly doubled the Federal Resource Agency resources available for land conservation across the US on an annual basis through royalties from the Great American Outdoors Act—offshore oil and gas leases.
The Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park in Colorado is a rugged landscape that attracts hikers and campers who love a challenge. It is also home to wild sheep, elk and the dreaded Gunnison Sage Grouse. We recently helped the National Park Service add 2,494 acres to the park with funding from LWCF. Photo by NPS.
Finally, there are existing federal funding programs with well-documented bipartisan support that can help invest in the six priority areas of America the Beautiful Initiative right now. While legitimate concerns remain about the lack of details about potential new programs, especially from several governors and outspoken Western congressional leaders, it is time to invest the LWCF’s proceeds in conservation projects that support outdoor recreation, climate change and other activities. offer many benefits, including flexibility. Local economic development, preservation of historical and cultural heritage, and equitable conservation projects that serve urban communities.
The Conservation Fund recently used nearly $50 million a year for us revolving fund To help conserve land funded by LWCF. The revolving fund is the primary channel of conservation fund for the protection of the land. When landlords are ready to sell their properties, it takes time for government agencies to hand over LWCF funds to buy and protect these risky lands. The Revolving Fund provides the conservation capital necessary for us to acquire and hold the risk lands until our partners have the funds to buy them back from us. These lands can then be added to existing or new parks, refuges, trails, forests and other public lands. With LWCF doubling, we need to increase our protection capital to keep pace with seizing the prime opportunities of LWCF. This important work will last as long as the details on the current initiative are settled by the current administration and Congress leaders.
“Conservation Fund has helped save 8.5 million acres [of land], and we will continue to play an important role in implementing LWCF by securing priority properties from interested vendors and bridging both the time and money gaps to drive successful conservation results. LWCF is an important tool in our collective toolbelt.“
–Larry Selzer, President and CEO, The Conservation Fund (August 4, 2020)
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