It’s been a while since we’ve chatted about 30x30, and you may be wondering: is California on track to meet our hefty goal of conserving 30% of land and coastal waters by the year 2030?
For a bit of background, California’s 30x30 goal is a microcosm of the global and U.S. national efforts to conserve 30% of land and coastal waters by the year 2030 worldwide and nationwide, respectively. In October 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a historic executive order committing California to 30x30 as the first U.S. state to do so. In January 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 14008 directing U.S. natural resource management agencies to take steps toward the goal of “conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030” (Sec. 216). At the December 2022 COP15 (15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity) in Montreal, Canada, about 190 countries signed on to an agreement to preserve 30% of the Earth’s land and coastal waters by 2030. In October 2023, California Governor Newsom signed SB 337, codifying the State’s 30x30 goal into law.
EPIC’s engagement with CA 30x30 began with a May 2021 action alert calling for members of the public to direct the State to conserve Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF), and a January 2022 action alert calling for members of the public to provide comments to the draft Pathways to 30x30 California document. In March 2023, I (Josefina Barrantes) joined the EPIC team as 30x30 Coordinator, and EPIC and the North Coast’s direct representative in the Power in Nature Coalition, a statewide coalition working together towards California’s 30x30 goal.
In May 2023, the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) released their Pathways to 30x30 Annual Progress Report, announcing 24.4% of lands and 16.2% of coastal waters conserved towards our 30x30 goal so far. With 631,000 acres newly conserved in the year leading up to this report, the State should be working to conserve about 1 million acres of land and 500,000 acres of coastal waters annually for the next 7 years to achieve 30x30.
In 2023, the Power in Nature Coalition Far North Group, of which EPIC is a leading member, achieved some significant, albeit slow, progress toward acquiring the Lake Earl Wildlife Areas Pacific Shores subdivision in order to place the Lake Earl Wildlife Area securely in the public trust. Additionally, there were a number of successful indigenous landback projects throughout the state, including 10,395 acres returned to the Hoopa Valley Tribe, funded partly by CNRA’s Tribal Nature-Based Solutions Program. Additionally, the Ocean Protection Council funded the development of the Tribal Marine Stewards Network, which furthers tribal sovereignty, engagement with state and federal agencies, and implementation of Indigenous Traditional Knowledge into management practices along California’s coast. The Tribal Marine Stewards Network is also developing policies to support the Yurok-Tolowa-Dee-ni' Indigenous Marine Stewardship Area, which was formed by the Resighini Tribe of Yurok People, Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation and the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, in September 2023.
Since early 2023, we have witnessed exciting Klamath River dam removals, leaving community members hopeful for the return of strong salmon runs to this vital waterway. This exciting historical moment on the Klamath, decades in the making, has also set precedents for what dam removal on the Eel RIver might look like. In late 2023, EPIC and the Power in Nature Coalition sent a letter to PG&E encouraging the speedy removal of the Potter Valley Project dams. Support for dam removal includes advocates for better recreational opportunities, as well as ecological restoration, for the riverside towns that reservoir drawdown would affect.
The Power in Nature Coalition is arranging meetings with California State legislators to discuss what projects might be at stake if the Governor's budget cuts include significant reductions to the various conservancies that fund land restoration and acquisition projects throughout the state. In these meetings, we encourage our State Assemblymembers and Senators to fight for the climate in the state budget allocations. State conservancies such as the Wildlife Conservation Board and the State Coastal Conservancy have funded many key projects here in California’s Far North Region, including the Lake Earl Wildlife Area, Lone Pine Ranch, and the Coastal Mendocino Pollinator Habitat Enhancement. Fighting for funding for these state conservancies is vital if we want this important work to continue, and EPIC is honored to be part of the fight to keep important projects like these funded.
So, long story short — yes! We are currently on track to meeting our 30x30 goal. EPIC will keep fighting for important conservation work with local stakeholders and Sacramento legislators, alike, and we thank you for your support while we help achieve CA 30x30!
With any questions about CA 30x30 or the Power in Nature Coalition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.