President Joe Biden has committed to protecting 30 percent of American lands and waters by the year 2030 and local leaders across the nation are throwing their support behind him, including the mayors of Raleigh and Durham. 

The National League of Conservation Voters released a bipartisan letter from 70 mayors across 29 states who support the 30 By 30 initiative; their support will help the goal become codified into law.

“Nature is indispensable to the health and prosperity of every community in America,” the letter states. “Achieving 30 By 30 will require an ambitious and inclusive movement that engages local, state, national and Tribal leaders, as well as private landowners, as part of the solution.”

In his first week in office, Biden signed an executive order that includes a ten-year goal of conserving 30 percent of the United States and instructed his administration to engage stakeholders to sign on to protecting the nation’s lands, water, and wildlife. The executive order supports people across the country who are already working to protect America’s natural resources including rural communities, Tribal Nations, private landowners, and other nature conservationists, enthusiasts, and stewards. 

U.S. Congresswoman Deb Haaland, Biden’s pick to lead the U.S. Interior Department, affirmed her commitment to the 30 By 30 goals during recent confirmation hearings. Several states have also seen 30 By 30 legislation introduced. (North Carolina is not, as yet, among them.) But a 2019 survey found the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of the nation’s lands and oceans is broadly popular, with 86 percent of voters nationwide supporting it and 95 percent of people in the U.S. supporting establishing marine protected areas. 

Globally, scientists are calling on international leaders to protect at least 30 percent of the planet’s land by 2030, a key metric in the response to natural decline, including the extinction of species, climate change, and environmental inequities among impoverished and minority communities.

In the U.S., more than football field’s worth of natural area is lost to development every 30 seconds. 

In addition to the 70 mayors, the League of Conservation Voters has also recruited 450 local leaders to support the 30 By 30 initiative, including Durham city council members Charlie Reece, Javiera Caballero, and Jillian Johnson and Wake County Commissioner Sig Hutchinson. 

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