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Western landowners respond to Biden climate and conservation executive actions

The Biden administration’s announcement today of a package of executive actions on climate and conservation includes several elements that the Western Landowners Alliance (WLA) has insisted are critical to making conservation and climate action successful in the West. While many in the rural West are taking a prudent wait-and-see approach, the administration’s directive on engaging people whose livelihoods are tied directly to stewarding land and water was a step in the right direction. In particular, WLA is heartened by the administration’s emphasis on engagement with farmers and ranchers and the interest in creating good jobs in land stewardship and restoration in rural communities and on working lands. 

WLA is also pleased to the see recognition of the crucial role working landscapes play in combating climate change. “We encouraged the Biden administration to consider what could be done to keep working landscapes whole, healthy, and economically viable through their climate and conservation initiatives,” says Lesli Allison, executive director of Western Landowners Alliance. “Above all we encouraged the administration to create a process for meaningful engagement so that these initiatives can be positive for working lands, and today we see that they were indeed listening.”

The Biden administration announced several climate- and conservation-related executive actions of note to Western landowners and managers, including:

  • “the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and oceans by 2030 and launches a process for engagement from agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, Tribes, States, Territories, local officials, and others to identify strategies that will result in broad participation.”
  • “direct[ing] the Secretary of Agriculture to collect input from farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders on how to use federal programs to encourage adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices that produce verifiable carbon reductions and sequestrations and create new sources of income and jobs for rural Americans.”

“Only through genuine engagement with those with lived experience managing and working land can we hope to conserve land, restore biodiversity and address climate change” says Allison. “We will continue to push the administration to ensure they make that engagement in good faith.”

The executive orders represent an important first step in WLA’s 1000-day roadmap for the Biden administration to redefine conservation in America. Landowners across the West are signing on in support. Read the roadmap here: https://westernlandowners.org/policy/redefining-conservation-in-america/

Louis Wertz is editor-in-chief of On Land and communications director at the Western Landowners Alliance. He lives in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, with his wife and daughter.