'Cautious optimism' for Biden's 30x30 plan

WYOMING – Gov. Mark Gordon released a statement reacting to President Joe Biden’s proposed 30x30 plan, which aims to preserve 30 percent of the country’s land and water by 2030.

Gordon said that Biden’s plan has been met with skepticism and applause, both of which, the governor said, are warranted.

“Although not consulted early in the process, I assigned a small team to convey our suggestions, and the report’s overall tone appears to have captured much of the input. This is encouraging and at least an acknowledgement that our concerns were heard,” Gordon said.

The governor went on to say that he’s “cautiously optimistic” the current administration will delegate power of the 30x30 plan into local volunteers. Gordon said the plan would be doomed if not enacted on a local level.

The 30x30 plan was announced coinciding with the release of a preliminary report to the National Climate Task Force that recommended a “ten-year, locally led campaign to conserve and restore the lands and waters upon which we all depend, and that bind us together as Americans,” the report’s front page read.

The Council on Envrionmental Quality, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of the Interior were the agencies represented in the 23-page report.

Among the report’s contents were three issues that threatened lands, water and wildlife: The disappearance of nature, climate change and inequitable access to the outdoors.

“Together, these three issues pose grave risks to the abundance, resilience and accessibility of the natural resources that are the foundation of America’s economy and well-being,” the report read.

Gordon took issue with an early focus on the report that aims to create more parks. He acknowledged the national park system as an effective way to preserve land but stated Wyoming already includes an expansive amount of land through that system.

“Wyomingites enjoy these places today as much as any other American, but, as one of the western states with large amounts of federal land, we cannot be the conservation colony of the nation,” Gordon said. “Wyoming is not the nation’s national park where nothing can happen to create jobs, sustain our communities, bolster our industries and find our own prosperity.

“That being said, the report does emphasize and outline a goal that would maintain geographically diverse conservation – a concept that should alleviate many of these concerns, and a commitment I expect to see honored.”

Biden’s 30x30 plan also recognizes existing volunteer programs landowners may have with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

The preliminary report includes what is called “President Biden’s challenge,” which is stated as “the first-ever national goal for stewardship of nature in America.”

That challenge, and stated goal, also reflects needed support for conservation and restoration efforts across American lands and waters, not just public lands. The plan states it includes “incentivizing voluntary stewardship efforts on private lands and by supporting the efforts and visions of states and Tribal Nations.”

Gordon specifically shared his satisfaction with the plan’s “strong recognition” of private property rights and a commitment to stewardship that private landowners have shown. If the 30x30 plan provides for recognition of those landowners who provide stewardship, Gordon said it would be a step forward. He also said he hopes it provides appropriate compensation for agriculture producers.

Gordon’s stated cautious optimism for the plan comes down to what is considered as conservation. He said he’s willing to work towards an integrated approach the preliminary report outlines and will advocate for Wyoming’s approach to the plan as long as it is in Wyoming’s best interest.

“If the radical left-wing agenda is allowed to permeate this process and sway definitions, Wyoming wants no part of it,” Gordon said. “If it remains place-based and truly voluntary, it could provide new opportunities for our landowners and our long-standing successful history in ecosystem management to prevail.”

The first full report of the “America The Beautiful” project is scheduled to be made public by the end of the year.