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Conservation

Laudable Goals will Require Cooperation

Biden administration members have a lot planned for 2030. Last week they announced another goal — conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. It was all detailed in the “America the Beautiful” report, and is being touted by supporting groups as a “locally led and voluntary effort.”

All the broad strokes are there — preserve public, private and tribal areas (and do it in a way that expands access for disadvantaged communities), create jobs, address climate change … do it for future generations. Those are, indeed, important goals, but the devil is in the details.

One of those details is a clever attempt by the Biden administration to play on the memories of those from the generation who will recall the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal attempt to provide jobs related to conservation in rural, government-owned lands did, indeed, do a lot of good for this country and we are still reaping the benefits. President Joe Biden is hoping for a “civilian climate corps” to work on conservation and restoration projects nationwide. Roosevelt’s CCC provided jobs for approximately nine years. Will jobs for those employed by Biden’s corps still exist after 2030?

It will also be essential that grants for Native American tribes to support tribal conservation priorities, for example, don’t equate to those populations being given needed federal money to “volunteer” their land for the effort. “Voluntary” always has some tricky connotations when it comes to dealing with the federal government and King Bureaucracy.

Farmers, ranchers, forest owners and those in fishing communities are among the populations that are also likely to be strongly encouraged to volunteer their property.

“Where this path leads over the next decade will be determined not by our agencies, but by the ideas and leadership of local communities,” wrote the authors of the report. “It is our job to listen, learn and provide support along the way to … pass on healthy lands, waters and wildlife to the generations to come.”

As has been the case with much of what was introduced over the past few months, the ideas in the “America the Beautiful” report carry the seeds of something good — if they are done right. It is essential then, that the administration holds true to its word to LISTEN to local communities.

As always, it does little good to devote full attention to preserving our natural wonders if we must sacrifice the people living in them.

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