State advances plan to protect 30% of lands

Pedro Hernández

California Natural Resources Agency will host environmental conservation meetings focused on the Sierra and San Joaquin Valley on April 28 and 29

By Pedro Hernandez
Ivanhoe Sol

Over the last few decades, California has been impacted by the global trends of climate change. Our state has a very unique geography and population that sees various local impacts ranging from wildfires, drought, loss of biodiversity, and general public health concerns.

However, as we face different environmental threats we also must realize that our economy, communities, and future depend on a healthy environment.

Much of the original oak woodland and wetland habitat of Tulare County has been changed and lost as the rise of the agricultural industry converted much of the area into farmland while redirecting most of the rivers in the area. 

This change in the usage of land has reduced the ranges of many endangered wildlife and plant species like the kit fox or valley oak trees that once covered the region. Furthermore, there are over 100 species of birds that risk extinction in Tulare County alone. The conversion of original habitat is also directly linked to issues like lowering groundwater levels, pesticide exposure, lack of access to health green spaces, and valley fever.

California is one of the 36 biodiversity hotspots in the world and according to experts, only environmental protection on a large scale can address the rapid biodiversity loss we are experience. Currently about 16% of California’s lands and 22% of its waters are protected.

In response, climate activists throughout the San Joaquin Valley and California have advocated for new programs designed to meet the challenges posed by climate change while supporting the health of the environment and communities. This has been informed by the international scientific communities call to protect 30% of the world’s lands by the year 2030. 

Last year, several leading environmental organizations including the Sierra Club, Audubon California, Latino Outdoors and others advocated on the State Level to support AB 3030, a bill that would make it official state policy to protect 30% of California’s lands by the year 2030. This bill did not pass due to the state legislature’s prioritization of COVID relief but this led to Governor Newsom issuing an executive order to protect biodiversity and community health in the state. 

This executive order directs several state agencies to begin identifying how California can increase the percentage of its protected lands and waters while bringing benefits to communities and endangered habitats. 

By creating more green spaces, this also will provide many other benefits such as improved mental health and air quality. 

Now, public meetings have been announced where state agencies will solicit input from community members on how best to protect their local environments and how to increase access to green spaces for communities throughout California. 

The California Natural Resources Agency’s (CRNA) will host nine regional meetings to gather public input to determine how best to protect the environment and to increase access to green spaces for communities. CNRA’s mission is to “Restore, protect and manage the state’s natural, historical and cultural resources for current and future generations using creative approaches and solutions based on science, collaboration and respect for all the communities and interests involved.” 

Two regional meetings focused on the Sierras and the San Joaquin Valley will be hosted on April 28th and April 29th. 

While meeting links are not available yet, anyone interested in learning more about this process can find more information online by visiting https://resources.ca.gov/Initiatives/Expanding-Nature-Based-Solutions.

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