March 1, 2021
Fulfilling a campaign pledge, one of Biden’s first actions as president was to sign an executive order that established the goal of conserving a third of America’s land and ocean waters by 2030. Meeting that goal will not be easy, but it can be achieved if we harness both private and government resources and ensure more Americans can participate in land conservation efforts.
The good news is that ocean conservation is already within reach of this threshold, with 26 percent of U.S. waters already protected. We have significantly more work to do when it comes to land, with only 12 percent conserved.
The federal government already controls significant land holdings in the U.S., primarily west of the Mississippi River. But further expansion of federal lands would likely be expensive and slowed by legal challenges, meaning public efforts alone cannot be expected to meet the president’s goal.