Protect 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030

S. Res. 372: The 30×30 Resolution to Save Nature

Human survival depends on the natural ecosystems around us – for clean air and water, medicine, outdoor recreation, energy, food, economic growth, and more. Right now, the world is facing two dual, existential crises: the climate crisis, and a rapidly accelerating nature crisis. These

crises are interconnected – and we cannot solve one without solving the other. We’re in the middle of a sixth mass extinction with one million species threatened because of human activity. The U.S. is losing a football field’s worth of nature every 30 seconds.

Scientists tell us we need to protect thirty percent of our lands and waters by 2030 to save nature. That’s why Sen. Tom Udall introduced a resolution in the Senate to set a national goal

to restore and preserve America’s outdoor spaces and waters, and to re-establish the United States’ leadership role in conservation.

How would the U.S. meet the 30×30 goal?

30×30 is about Protecting the Best and Restoring the Rest.” Protecting and restoring 30 percent of our lands and waters will involve a diversity of efforts, including creating new national monuments and parks, designating new wilderness areas, creating more urban green spaces, working with Tribal communities, and returning federal lands to a healthier state. It is not a one size fits all approach. To get to 30×30, we must consider everything from iconic national landscapes to the local park just down the street. Getting to 30×30 will also include expanding programs and incentives for voluntary private land conservation and restoration as well.

What physical opportunities do we have for getting to 30×30? Don’t we already protect a large portion?

A recent study by over 100 economists found that every dollar invested into 30×30 would yield five dollars in return. The costs of inaction are far greater.

We have tremendous opportunities for conserving more land and water in the U.S.:

  • Only 12% of U.S. land is protected, but 60% is in a natural state.
  • Only 10% of Bureau of Land Management land is protected, but much more is not being developed, and therefore could be protected.
  • Just 25% of national forests are protected, but only a fraction of the rest is used for timber.
  • 26% of America’s oceans are protected, but that’s almost all in the far Pacific.

How much would it cost to implement 30×30?

A recent study by over 100 economists found that every dollar invested into 30×30 would yield five dollars in return. The costs of inaction are far greater. Communities across the country are experiencing costly and deadly natural crises every day: increasing wildfires and droughts, marine and terrestrial ecosystems that are no longer able to support once-thriving agricultural economies, and needless pollution from fossil fuel and mining companies in American’s backyards.

Would a proposal like 30×30 reduce the amount of land for outdoor recreation, hunting, fishing, etc.?

On the contrary. Protecting 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030 does not mean making them off-limits to outdoor recreation. A stronger national conservation effort is the foundation for a thriving outdoor recreation economy. This goal is about restoring and preserving our nation’s outdoor spaces to the benefit of all Americans.

How can 30×30 help the U.S. economy?

Conservation and environmental protection can play a critical role in our economic recovery and growth. Expanding and maintaining our public lands and tackling climate change can help fuel the economy and create tens of thousands of sustainable, good-paying jobs, especially in rural communities. Last year, the outdoor recreation economy was responsible for an estimated $900 million in economic activity and millions of jobs nationwide. And we can expand the civilian conservation workforce, creating good jobs for people in conserving and protecting our outdoor spaces. It’s a win-win for the planet and the economy.

How would 30×30 positively affect environmental justice?

Environmental justice and racial justice go hand-in-hand. Communities of color and low-income communities have long endured the worst effects of toxic pollution and environmental destruction, even though these communities aren’t overwhelmingly responsible for producing such pollution. This form of environmental injustice is one of the factors that cause health disparities – and it’s one of the reasons why COVID-19 is disproportionately killing Black, Hispanic, and Native people.

Adopting the 30×30 approach would mean that instead of propping up industries that pollute communities, create few and often short-term local jobs, and leave behind toxic waste that taxpayers then pay to clean up – we would open nature to more people and invest in restoring and protecting land that can become urban green space or new national parks. The research shows that when kids don’t have firsthand exposure to nature and the outdoors, their physical and mental health and overall development suffer. 30×30 can provide kids and individuals of all ages and backgrounds with greater access to nature, making our communities stronger and healthier.

What public support does 30×30 have?

Polls show a strong, bipartisan movement behind conserving the great outdoors. One poll found that 86 percent of people would support a 30×30 target, and that included over 70 percent of Republicans. Wide majorities support bold action on the climate and nature crises. Americans have a deep appreciation of our natural heritage and understand the value of outdoor recreation, clean air and water, and the preservation of our most special outdoor spaces.