Sen. Udall releases ambitious proposal for land, water conservation

By Laura Bies

Sen. Udall, seen here speaking at a National Park Service event, introduced an ambitious resolution to promote land and water conservation. ©National Park Service

Senator Tom Udall, D-NM, introduced a Senate resolution that calls for protecting at least 30% of the United States’ lands and waters by 2030.

The resolution, called the Thirty by Thirty Resolution to Save Nature, is not legally binding, but rather calls for the federal government to cooperate with local communities, states, tribes and private landowners to achieve ambitious goals for land and water conservation.

Udall unveiled this measure late last month. “The resolution is the first step to see what we are looking at, to see what kind of bipartisan support we can get and kind of move it forward,” he said. Udall is working with Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Col. on the resolution, which has also been co-sponsored by several other Democrats.

Udall calls the resolution part “of a new playbook to address the climate and nature crisis.” This is one of several conservation initiatives for the senator, who has announced he will not be running for re-election.

The resolution is meant to meet the objective to conserve 30% of America’s lands and waters over the next decade by:

  • Working with federal agencies, local communities, Indian tribes, states, and private landowners to conserve natural places and resources under their jurisdiction
  • Including public incentives for private landowners to voluntarily conserve areas of demonstrated conservation value and those with a high capacity to sequester carbon and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Improving access to nature for all people in the United States, including for communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities
  • Using U.S. lands and oceans to sequester and store carbon
  • Focusing work at a biologically and ecologically meaningful large-landscape scale
  • Preventing extinction by recovering and restoring animal and plant species
  • Stabilizing ecosystems and the services of ecosystems, restoring degraded ecosystems, and maintaining ecological functions
  • Increasing economic opportunities for farmers, ranchers, fishermen and foresters

The measure cites data from several recent reports as support for the effort, such as the National Climate Assessment and the findings from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released earlier this year. It also references a recent report concluding that Canada and the United States have lost 2,900,000,000 birds since 1970, a 29% decline in total bird numbers.

The idea of protecting 30% of the planet’s land and water is not new; scientists and conservation organizations throughout the world have expressed support for the idea in recent years.

The Wildlife Society’s position on the conservation of biological diversity states, “the foundation for conserving biological diversity should begin with actions to protect, restore, and sustain the integrity of soil, water, air, and native flora and fauna. Public and private lands must play complementary roles in stewardship of these basic resources.”

Read TWS’ standing position on Conserving Biological Diversity.

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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