FORD COUNTY. Kan. (KSNW) – The Biden Administration’s 30 by 30 plan aimed at tackling the climate crisis has caused some concern among landowners across the state since the executive order’s initial signing on January 27.
A report with more details outlining the steps to accomplish the plan was submitted to the White House just weeks ago, making the 90-day, April 27 deadline. After initial submission, the report was withheld from public eyes until May 6, at which point the Department of Interior released the 22-page document.
The report titled ‘Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful‘ drafts eight principles and six priorities of the federal government’s push to conserve 30% of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030.
The eight principles include:
- Pursue a collaborative and inclusive approach to conservation
- Conserve America’s lands and waters for the benefit of all people
- Support locally led and locally designed conservation efforts
- Honor Tribal sovereignty and support the priorities of the Tribal Nations
- Pursue conservation and restoration approaches that create jobs and support healthy communities
- Honor private property rights and support the voluntary stewardship efforts of private landowners and fishers
- Use science as a guide
- Build on existing tools and strategies with an emphasis on flexibility and adaptive approaches
The six recommendations include:
- Create more parks and safe outdoor opportunities in nature-deprived communities
- Support Tribally led conservation and restoration priorities
- Expand collaborative conservation of fish and wildlife habitats and corridors
- Increase access for outdoor recreation
- Incentivize and reward the voluntary conservation efforts of fishers, ranchers, farmers
- Create jobs by investing in restoration and resilience
“It’s a philosophical document. But it does recognize and emphasize important principles such as incentive-based voluntary conservation, protection of private property rights as well as just the continued ability for farmers and ranchers to farm on our private land,” said Ryan Flickner, Senior Director of Advocacy, Kansas Farm Bureau. “Those are foundational from a Kansas Farm Bureau perspective to what our members are demanding.”
The USDA says the plan will take a collaborative and inclusive approach based on voluntary, incentivized, and stewardship practices. “They are very clear, this is absolutely not a preservation tool. This isn’t just put under a padlock and nobody can step foot on it. It is a conservation tool,” said Flickner.
Specifics on the level of conservation are unclear at this time. As of now, there is the belief that lands currently under government conservation efforts will be included in the 30%. This includes land enrolled in programs such as the CRP, EQIP, and CSP.
“We look at it as a continuation of how USDA’s worked with landowners in the past,” said Bill Hohenstein, USDA Director of the Office of Energy and Environmental Policy.
“So far from what USDA and White House officials have told me and told American Farm Bureau is that everything that exists under the sun today, that is going to be taken into account and given credit for its conservation mentality,” said Flickner.
The USDA says it is interested in looking at conservation practices for working lands to help protect agriculture production. “The lands that farmers are managing for crops, the land that’s being managed for livestock. Those are critical services that farmers provide to society and we want to make sure that continues,” said Hohenstein.
Hohenstein says the conservation initiative will allow the country to be a leading role model in the global conservation effort.
“The U.S. has a long history and legacy of conservation that we should be proud of. Part of what we’re doing here is pulling together all of the work we are doing and putting it all in one place, and using that as an example of other countries. Part of this plan is really to go and export that as a concept that other countries can adopt,” said Hohenstein.
Many in the ag industry are pleased with the initial report but are calling for more clarification and more details especially when discussing what exactly 30% means and what land will be targeted.
“I think that’s where we absolutely have to have some additional particulars, and additional specific guidance, footnotes if you will that are very explicit in what lands we are attempting to conserve,” said Flickner.
Hohenstein says this initial report will lead to follow-up reports to further give clarity, address specifics on how the government intends to implement the plan, as well as gain input from local stakeholders.
Many stress that the guidelines outlined must follow through in implementation.
Hohenstein says there will be another report completed by the end of the year.