ED Report February 2022

ED Report February 2022 960 960 California Wilderness Coalition

By Chris Morrill, Executive Director

In December, California’s “Pathways to 30×30” document outlined how the state will approach the ambitious goal of protecting 30% of the state by 2030 (“30×30”) to combat our extinction crisis. It highlights which actions are needed on private lands, public lands, and outlines better planning and coordination needed to reach conservation goals. You can read the full report here.

Overall, we think the document provided a great first step. The public lands portion broadly described many of the qualities, language, and approaches a group of public lands advocates pushed for in a public lands specific letter submitted to the California Natural Resources Agency before the state completed its draft. We are excited to continue to put those broad strokes into action in the coming years and help the state as it identifies key implementation avenues.

30×30 is primarily an effort to combat the biodiversity and climate crisis; however, the state is also making a considerable effort to expand equitable outdoor access and build climate resilience as part of the initiative. Within the environmental community, there continues to be a lot of support around all of these goals. Still, we struggle with how to weigh them in different contexts.

CalWild has maintained that 30×30 is first and foremost a biodiversity initiative and should be planned and strategized accordingly. However, we don’t simply believe that protecting habitat is done in a quixotic effort to save species. This is instead about broadening the communities and individuals that benefit from a healthier environment.

The goal of expanding access to nature is an important one and CalWild needs to be better about supporting these efforts in meaningful ways. In the case of 30×30, our fundamental goal is for everyone to benefit from healthier ecosystems. This will mean dedicated funding in areas that have not historically been priorities for biodiversity initiatives or land conservation campaigns. That is why CalWild endorsed an idea offsetting aside 50% of all government  for “climate vulnerable communities”.

Although CalWild believes 30×30 should be driven by biodiversity objectives, we also know that the benefits of these types of government initiatives have rarely benefited poor communities. By dedicating a specific percentage of 30×30 funding for these communities we are “putting our money where our mouth is” and ensuring that the benefits of conservation are felt more broadly and tangibly.

In our mind, conservation is done for the benefit of everyone. In the past, our naivety was to believe that this was automatically the case. In fact, where land was conserved and where it was degraded often had more to do with political power than purely conservation ends. 30×30 presents another opportunity for the conservation community to live up to much of the language it has espoused over the last few years.

I’m excited by this new direction and understanding. It will not be easy. It will require compromises along the way. And it will require putting other voices out in front many times. Nonetheless, I see a stronger and more diverse conservation community on the other side.


Please let me know your thoughts, comments, and questions by emailing me at cmorrill@calwild.org.

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