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Friday, October 07, 2022

White House launches $1B program to boost conservation goals

The Biden administration has launched a $1 billion program to advance its goal of conserving 30% of the nation’s land and water by 2030.

The administration said the program, called America the Beautiful Challenge, would serve as a “one-stop shop” for states, tribes, territories, NGOs and others to apply for a range of grants for conservation and restoration projects. . It’s backed by an initial $440 million in federal funds over five years—most of which comes from bipartisan infrastructure legislation Congress passed last year—and aims to attract Private and philanthropic contributions to reach the $1 billion mark.

Early in his term, President Joe Biden set a national goal of protecting 30% of America’s land and water by 2030 to combat climate change and biodiversity loss. And last May, the administration published report good Outlining their vision for a 10-year “locally led” effort to conserve and restore land and water, reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions and address inequalities between those who have access to nature and the outdoors Happened.

Brenda Mallory, president of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the new program “will help mobilize new investments in locally-led, voluntary conservation and restoration projects across the country, while making it easier for communities to access these resources.” ” Statement.

Funding will be provided for projects focused in several areas: conservation and restoration of rivers, coasts, wetlands, forests and grasslands; Linking landscape and wildlife corridors; Increase resilience to coastal flooding, drought and other climate impacts; and expanding outreach.

Federal investments in the program include $375 million in ecosystem restoration funds that the Interior Department received through infrastructure legislation; $35 million in Forest Service grants for water quality improvement and invasive species prevention; and $25 million in Defense Department funding to conserve natural resources around military installations.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a private nonprofit that works closely with federal agencies, will oversee the program, and prioritize grants for Aboriginal- and Indigenous-led projects. Proposal applications will be accepted from early May through the end of July, with funding given in November.

“The America the Beautiful Challenge provides an opportunity to support local efforts led by people who know, love and have a stake in the landscape around them,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.

A herd of bison runs through private land controlled by the American Prairie Reserve, south of Malta, Mont.  (AP Photo/Matt Brown, FILE)
A herd of bison runs through private land controlled by the American Prairie Reserve, south of Malta, Mont. ( Associated Press Photo/Matt Brown, FILE)

Monday’s announcement comes as a little-known Texas group ramps up propaganda campaign Against the initiative of the Biden administration, known informally as “30×30”. Since last year, the American Stewards of Liberty, a right-wing group with ties to the fossil fuel industry, has been opposing the conservation target by falsely portraying it as a federal one.land grabAnd creating fear in rural communities that the administration is ready to take over private property.

Later this month, the group will host the “Stop 30×30 Summit” summit in Nebraska. The event is being sponsored by several climate denial and anti-federal land groups, and its keynote speakers include Trump-era Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo). Boebert is one of Congress’ most vocal critics of the initiative.

There is nothing to support the stereotypical narrative about a 30×30 land grab. In fact, the Biden administration’s report on the program included a commitment to “cooperation, support for voluntary and local-led conservation, and respect for tribal sovereignty and private property rights.”

And while the 30×30 attracted fierce opponents, it remains hugely popular across the country. 1 January 2021 survey Of the registered voters, it was found that 80% support the conservation goal.,

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