Skip links

Executive Director’s Report, February 2021

By Chris Morrill, Executive Director

I often promote the importance of taking the long view when it comes to protecting public lands. It is only with a long view that we can make the small, but essential, steps daily and year after year to achieve protection that can endure for generations.

There is a dramatic change in vision and approach to public lands with this new administration and Congress. As you can see in this newsletter neither the Biden administration nor Congress is wasting any time.

The Biden administration made clear its intentions to boldly fight climate change with an Executive Order (EO). Among many other initiatives, including rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, is a pause on oil and gas drilling on public lands which contributes to nearly 25% of the country’s greenhouse emissions. The EO also set an ambitious target of conserving 30% of the lands and waters in the United States by 2030 (30×30). Read Andre Sanchez’s full write up about this Executive Order and others here.

A second important development in the early days of the new administration was a withdrawal of the Trump administration’s proposed amendment of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). The Trump administration had proposed to amend the DRECP and open more of it to mining and development, despite almost a decade of of careful negotiation to balance conservation, renewable energy development, and recreation in the California desert.  Linda Castro celebrates that decision in her write up.

Finally, Ryan encourages us all to take action as the House considers a public lands package, which at the time you read this may have already passed. (The bill is to be considered on Thursday with a vote taking place on Friday.) The package will include four California bills including our three priority campaigns for the San Gabriel mountains, Central Coast, and northwest.

That’s a lot of developments in five weeks, and all of it for the better. As we celebrate each of these important steps toward greater public land protection, it is important to remember all the small steps taken over the last four years to get us to this point. CalWild, and many of you, pushed back against a lot of bad projects and policies. We are thankful for that tiring and sometimes disheartening work. It is great to see perseverance pay off.

And we also want to remember that many small steps, even in a more pro-public lands environment, will still need to be taken to get our bills enacted into law and realize the full ambition and grand vision of a 30×30 goal. We look forward to continuing that slow path towards progress and the other milestones along the way.

Please let me know your thoughts, comments, and questions by emailing me at