GLENWOOD SPRINGS– Thus far in 2021, commissioners in Garfield, Grand, Moffat, Logan and Las Animas counties have all adopted resolutions formally opposing the so-called “30 by 30” plan by the Biden administration to lock up “at least 30 percent of our lands and waters” for conservation purposes by 2030
On January 27, President Biden signed the far-reaching Executive Order 14008, which among other things orders the Secretary of the Interior to recommend “steps that the United States should take, working with State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, and other key stakeholders, to achieve the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030” to a new National Climate Task Force that will implement his agenda.
To conserve 30% of the land alone (not including the same amount of U.S. territorial waters) would require the rewilding of an area twice the size of Texas, according to proponents.
Western Slope counties oppose
In Garfield County the resolution points out that about 62.3% of land in the county is already owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS), who are responsible for managing some 2,000 square miles in the county.
The Flat Tops Wilderness Area within Garfield County comprises 38% of USFS property.
In a statement to Sky-Hi News Grand County Commissioner Merrit Linke, referring to last year’s East Troublesome forest fire said, “Preserving and protecting — the government does not have a good track record of doing those two things. The hands off approach does not work, as evidenced by a 200,000 acre fire in Grand County last summer.”
In Moffat County the resolution states: “The Board supports the continued management of the public lands and the national forests under principles of multiple use and sustained yield, recognizing the Nation’s need for domestic sources of minerals, energy, timber, food, and fiber, and in careful coordination with Moffat County to ensure consistency with County land use plans and land management policies, as required by law.”
Moffat County commissioners also said, “Any non-federal lands or other rights that are acquired to fulfill the 30 x 30 program’s objectives should be acquired only from willing landowners and for the payment full and fair market value for all rights and interests acquired, and not through regulatory compulsion…”
Grand, Garfield and Moffat counties are all on Colorado’s Western Slope.
Private property concerns in other counties
Situated on the Eastern Plains, Logan County’s resolution says, “There is no constitutional or statutory authority afforded to any President, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, or any other federal agency to set aside and permanently conserve 30 percent of all land and water in the United States, and no such authority is referenced in Executive Order 14008.”
Only .03%, or 306 of Logan County’s 1,181,760 acres are federally owned and the county objects to federalizing or restricting the use of private property for this plan.
“This would be the federal government coming in and acquiring private property and telling us how to conserve our land. We are farmers and ranchers, we already know how to do that,” said Logan County Commissioner Byron Pelton in a statement to Complete Colorado. “This is a clear overreach from the federal government.”
The resolution enacted by Las Animas County, bordering New Mexico in southwest Colorado not only opposes any federal designation of “confiscated private lands,” but specifically “supports the continued private ownership of land in the County, recognizing the Nation’s need for domestic sources of minerals, energy, timber, food, fiber and recreation.” Las Animas encompasses a significant land area at over 3 million acres, of which roughly 16 percent is federally owned.
It isn’t just rural Colorado counties concerned about the potential for federal government abuse in pursuit of locking up privately held land. A March 16 letter from over 60 members of the Congressional Western Caucus, including Colorado Representatives Doug Lamborn and Lauren Boebert, takes the Biden administration to task for a “lack of information and ambiguous goals” regarding the 30 by 30 scheme, and calls the inclusion of private private property in the initiative “setting the stage for potential egregious federal overreach.”
Biden plan mimics global agenda
Biden’s plan mimics a global initiative called the “Global Deal for Nature” (GDN), characterized as a “companion pact to the Paris Agreement.”
Swiss medical implant industrialist Hansjörg Wyss kickstarted the GDN in 2018 when he donated $1 billion to “help communities, indigenous peoples, and nations conserve 30% of the planet in its natural state by 2030.”
Wyss reportedly made his fortune selling medical implant manufacturer Synthes, which has a plant in Monument, to Johnson & Johnson in 2012 for $19.7 billion.
The advocates for GDN call for “rewilding” of private property to create migration corridors free of humans and their infrastructure, with the global 30 by 30 plan being only the immediate goal. Advocates don’t want to stop at 30%, they want 50% to 75% of all of the land and sea on earth to be “conserved.”
Although advocates are vague about it, by “conserved” they appear to mean prohibitions on all extractive activities including commercial fishing, timber harvesting, mining, oil & gas drilling, road building, urbanization, rural development and even human access.
Colorado Democrats, environmentalists stump for land lock-ups
Colorado’s Democrat U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, along with U.S. Representative Joe Neguse from Boulder are doing their own part to help along the Biden effort, having introduced the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act on February 2, for the fourth time.
The bill would designate three new wilderness areas and expand three existing ones, putting 42,327 acres out of the reach of the average person and create “special management areas,” as well as expanding federal control of the Curecanti National Recreation Area near Gunnison. It also withdraws more than 200,000 acres from mineral extraction.
Additionally, environmentalist organizations Conservation Colorado and Western Resource Advocates published a 2020 report agitating for a Colorado-specific version of 30 by 30 by putting 30% of the state off limits to all extractive uses by 2030.
Included in the plan are social justice efforts to “ensure that tribal voices guide and inform an inclusive dialogue on a conservation vision that confronts and rectifies historical injustices” and closing a “nature gap” that Conservation Colorado claims exists for “communities of color in Colorado” who they say are “more than 20% more likely to experience nature deprivation than white communities.”
According to Conservation Colorado, of the 66.5 million acres in Colorado, 28.3 million (36%) are federal lands, 770,000 (1%) are tribal lands and 3.2 million (5%) are state lands.
The majority of Colorado’s lands, 37.8 million acres (57%) are private property.
Yet on its website’s 30×30 page, Western Resource Advocates claims, without supplying source documentation, that Colorado has only protected 10% of its land, nor does it define what it means by “protect.” The 10% claim has been echoed by partisan progressive media outlets in Colorado.
It’s unclear why Conservation Colorado and Western Resource Advocates think Colorado needs 14 million more acres locked up to achieve its goal of 30% given the fact that 41% of Colorado’s lands are owned by the state and federal governments already.
Moreover, Biden’s federal plan to lock up 30% of the land in the U.S. is not at all the same thing as individual states locking up 30% of their own land. Some states don’t have vast areas of existing government-owned land, which would require condemnation and taking private property on a large scale to achieve that goal on a state-by-state basis.
Biden’s national plan would focus the effort primarily west of the Mississippi, where there is much more federal land, and imposes the economic burdens of locking up public lands on those states, including Colorado.
The members of the Congressional Western Caucus see this as a key concern in their March letter to Biden: “Given our wide-open spaces, large-scale landscapes, and significant federal ownership, Western states will be disproportionately impacted by policies set in place to achieve the 30 by 30 goal, which we fear will impact revenues-derived and jobs that depend upon multiple-use public lands.”
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