March 22, 2023 — News of the establishment of Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada and Castner Range National Monument in Texas emerged from the White House’s Conservation in Action Summit yesterday. Many more significant conservation and environmental actions were announced with the goal to conserve, restore and expand access to federal lands and waters.
The following are highlights from President Biden’s press statement:
Ocean Climate Action Plan.
The Ocean Policy Committee, co-chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is releasing the first-ever United States Ocean Climate Action Plan, a groundbreaking roadmap to harnesses the power of the ocean to advance immediate, transformational steps to protect ocean health and address the climate crisis. Acknowledging that there is no path to a healthy and livable climate without the ocean, the plan outlines new actions on the Administration’s ocean-climate priorities, including efforts to advance climate solutions, promote environmental justice, support healthy communities, and ensure a robust and sustainable ocean economy.
Wildlife Corridors Guidance.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality is issuing new guidance to Federal agencies on how to better incorporate ecological connectivity and wildlife corridors into federal planning and decision-making. The guidance highlights the importance of connectivity across terrestrial, marine, and freshwater habitats, encouraging collaboration across management and ownership boundaries with states, Tribes, local governments, and private land owners. This helps deliver on one of the America the Beautiful Initiative’s six early focus areas – supporting collaborative conservation of fish and wildlife habitat and corridors.
Strengthening the Stewardship of America’s Public Lands.
The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management will, in the coming weeks, seek public input on a proposed rule that will help update and modernize the agency’s tools and strategies for managing America’s public lands. With climate change imposing mounting impacts on the nation’s public lands, and the growing importance of public lands for recreation and conservation, the proposed rule would help ensure that the nation’s lands continue to provide abundant and well-connected wildlife habitat, supply clean drinking water, and power local economies.
New Partnership to Protect Military Readiness and Preserve Green Space.
The Department of the Interior and the Department of Defense are partnering to allocate $80 million through a combination of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and matching funds from DoD’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program (REPI) to preserve green space around military installations and improve access to outdoor recreation for millions of Americans. The Departments will make the funding available to states through a competitive process that could support projects on Tribal, private, state, or local lands.
$100 Million Tribal Conservation Funding Pledge.
Native Americans in Philanthropy, in collaboration with Biodiversity Funders Group and 15 philanthropies, is launching the Tribal Nations Conservation Pledge with an initial commitment of more than $100 million. This is a new platform for philanthropic organizations to support the conservation work of Tribal Nations and public-private partnerships between the Biden-Harris Administration, Tribes, and philanthropy. The pledge calls on funders to commit to a self-determined amount of funding, or a self-determined percentage of annual programmatic funding, to support the biodiversity and conservation efforts of Tribes, inter-Tribal organizations, and Tribal consortia.
America the Beautiful 2022 Annual Report.
The Biden-Harris Administration is releasing the 2022 America the Beautiful Annual Report, an update on progress made to support locally-led conservation and restoration efforts and meet the President’s goal to conserve at least 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.
New Partnership to Accelerate the Conservation of At-Risk Species.
The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Alliance of Forest Owners and the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement Inc., will announce a memorandum of understanding which formalizes the Wildlife Conservation Initiative, a collaborative partnership focused on advancing the conservation of at-risk and listed species within private working forests nationwide. The announcement comes as the Department of the Interior celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act and highlights the landmark law’s importance in preventing imperiled species’ extinction, promoting the recovery of wildlife, and conserving the habitats upon which they depend.
Wildlife Crossing Pilot Program.
The Federal Highway Administration and the Department of Transportation will open applications for the first-of-its-kind $350 million Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program. The program will build infrastructure that is proven to improve roadway safety – particularly in rural communities – and bring down the roughly 200 deaths stemming from more than one million collisions every year between vehicles and wildlife.
Nearly $200 Million to Reduce Wildfire Risk to Communities.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service announced nearly $200 million in Community Wildfire Defense Grant (CWDG) program grants to communities across the country. Funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CWDG program is designed to assist communities, including Tribal communities, non-profit organizations, state forestry agencies and Alaska Native corporations with planning for and mitigating wildfire risks to communities and critical infrastructure as the nation faces an ongoing wildfire crisis.
State Wildlife Grants.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is distributing over $56 million for state fish and wildlife agencies through the State Wildlife Grant Program to support conservation and stewardship efforts for imperiled wildlife and their habitats.