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America the Beautiful » Environment America| Environment America

America the Beautiful » Environment America| Environment America

On May 6, 2021, Biden’s administration launched its America the BeautifulInitiative, a campaign to restore and conserve 30 percent of our country’s lands and water. Like any good campaign they want to measure progress. This is where the proposed American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas.The Atlas is here. The Atlas will provide information to Americans about the lands, waters, and ecosystems that have been conserved or restored.

Thursday was the first of many listening sessions that were part of a public period for comment on the initiative. The administration is specifically seeking public feedback about the Atlas and its potential utility as a tool for the public. Below is the public comment I made on this important topic.

Ellen Montgomery, my name is Ellen Montgomery. I’m the public lands campaign manager for Environment America. We work to promote environmental values like clean air to breathe, clean drinking water, and clean power to power our lives.

Every minute, two football pitches worth of the country’s natural lands are lost. To reach 30% by 2030, we have much work ahead of us. We need more and larger wildlife refuges, parks, monuments. We must also manage as many public lands possible according to the U.S. Geological Surveys Gap codes 1 and 2, which means managing for biodiversity. The Atlas should indicate which land is Gap 1 or Gap 2.

We need to create stronger protections on land that is already public, and be able determine which lands have the potential to be better protected. These are just a few examples that could benefit from stronger safeguards:

  • Protecting our federal forests’ mature and older trees that are vital for habitat and carbon absorption

  • To create more habitat for the species they are protecting, the Bureau of Land Management could add land to existing wildlife refuges.

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  • Conversion of national recreation areas, such as Delaware Water Gap, to National Parks

Protecting the lands we live on is a sign of our values. It shows that we value beauty and richness. We can have more wolves and bears, fewer songbirds and more trees if we act quickly and now. We need more nature.

We are grateful

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