President Biden issued Executive Order 14008 on January 27, 2021, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad” (Order). Section 216 of that Order focuses on conserving the nation’s land and water resources with the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of land and water by 2030. It was commonly referred to as the “30×30 Initiative.” On May 6, 2021, the Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful Report (Report) was released outlining initial efforts, goals, concerns, and barriers to implementing the Order.
Utah is opposed to the 30×30 Initiative as it applies to the State of Utah. Utah currently has a substantial amount of its total land mass in a conservation or preservation status. Approximately 23% of the state, 12,628,600 acres, receives the highest level of protection available (e.g., national parks, wilderness, national monuments, etc.). Another 48% of Utah, 25,949,790 acres, consists of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.
Governor Spencer Cox sent a letter to President Biden on November 16, 2021, expressing serious concerns and opposition to the 30×30 Initiative. Though in opposition to the 30×30 Initiative, Governor Cox did express the State’s willingness to work with the federal government through state-led strategic coordination that promotes multiple-use and sustained yield uses.
Furthermore, on February 17, 2022, Governor Spencer Cox signed the Senate Concurrent Resolution (S.C.R. 2) titled “Concurrent Resolution Highlighting Utah’s Willingness to Cooperate with the Federal Partners for Efficient and Sustainable Management of Public Lands.” This resolution articulates how Utah has already conserved more than 30% of its land and water and seeks to enhance the active management of our public lands. The resolution astutely requires the conservation and stewardship of Utah’s lands and waters to be administered by state agencies, local governments, and private landowners — not by the federal government.