How Biden’s 30x30 conservation plan may affect western ranchers, federal grazing lands

It has been four months since President Joe Biden announced his “America The Beautiful” executive order, which mandates the federal government to work on conserving 30 percent of land by 2030.

Here is how the Bureau of Land Management is working towards that goal on federal grazing lands.

The administration’s 30x30 conservation plan is a key area of concern for ranchers attending the Public Lands Council’s annual legislative fly-in, but Nada Culver, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management, told attendees they are hoping to move forward with a collaborative approach.

According to Culver, “These principles of supporting locally-led, voluntary conservation and that specifically does highlight working lands of interest that’s front and center for us. I think for this initiative to succeed everybody needs to be a part of it and see themselves in it, and be able to work together.”

Despite the assurance, Culver says some of the land currently enrolled in federal grazing permits will have to be part of the conservation effort.

“We manage grazing on 155 million acres right now. So, again, if we’re going to look at ways to restore and then conserve landscapes and land and ensure that they are more climate-resilient, we will need to be working on a lot of those lands with all of you. So, I think different grazing practices or different management or different interaction with other resources and users is going to be obviously part of that conversation,” she states.

An inter-agency task force made up of the White House and the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and Commerce will be making the decisions that impact ranchlands, but first, they are working on an atlas to update their conservation maps.

“We certainly heard from many stakeholders that they want to be engaged as that inter-agency working group is moving forward with defining what counts, and figuring out how to count it, and I do expect that we will... be providing an opportunity for more engagement with the working group and an atlas soon, and doing that in realtime not once it’s done,” she explains.

Culvers also highlighted the BLM’s new “outcome-based grazing” efforts as another way to encourage conservation.

“This is something we’re interested in building on and seeing how it might fit here,” she adds. “This is in a smaller scale experiment about how we might make grazing easier to adjust and be more collaborative so that we can address climate and soils, and again, work on restoration and conservation in that context.”

The BLM is also working on establishing “gateway communities” where it can create jobs managing recreating and wildfire areas.


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