Land Grabs of Many Kinds Become Hot Topics Throughout the Countryside
Kansas Cattlemen’s Association has been tracking and researching the 30x30 initiative introduced as part of President Biden’s Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home & Abroad Executive Order.
The order reads: Section 216 “Conserving our National Lands and Waters states: Conserving Our Nation’s Lands and Waters. (a) The Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, and the heads of other relevant agencies, shall submit a report to the Task Force within 90 days of the date of this order recommending steps that the United States should take, working with State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, and other key stakeholders, to achieve the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.
(i) The Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, through the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality shall, as appropriate, solicit input from State, local, Tribal, and territorial officials, agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, and other key stakeholders in identifying strategies that will encourage broad participation in the goal of conserving 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.
(ii) The report shall propose guidelines for determining whether lands and waters qualify for conservation, and it also shall establish mechanisms to measure progress toward the 30-percent goal. The Secretary of the Interior shall subsequently submit annual reports to the Task Force to monitor progress.
There has been a lot of noise concerning 30x30. The majority of the buzz is speculative in nature, and at times has been flat-out misleading by groups and individuals. Anytime you have the government getting involved, you have to be skeptical, but the bottom line is, the United States provides landowners with a tremendous amount of private property rights. When you boil things down, the landowner voluntarily decides whether or not to participate in the various conservation programs, so a full understanding is priority number one.
National Heritage Areas (NHA) have also been a topic that has received a lot of attention in the past few months. One common misconception is that the 30x30 Executive Order and the National Heritage Areas are the same things. There is actually no connection between the two.
National Heritage Areas are partnerships between the National Park Service and local communities and/or states. A National Heritage Area is a site designated by the United States and intended to encourage historic preservation of the area and an appreciation of the history and heritage of the site. There are currently 55 National Heritage Areas, some of which use variations of the title, such as National Heritage Corridor. NHAs are lived-in landscapes.
These, and similar programss are best controlled and managed at the local levels. Producers that are concerned about NHAs are best off talking to their local officials and commissioners. One can also seek to have their county officials pass policy that strengthens private property rights.
Finally, landowners are urged to be sure to fully research and vet contracts to specifically understand any easements they are accepting in exchange for any kind of payment. The industry will soon see a flood of carbon credit and conservation programs dangling dollars in exchange for their participation. These programs can be dangerous, especially when offered in perpetuity.