Earlier this week, a controversial bill that would create a policy to protect 30% of California’s lands and oceans was re-referred to the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, signaling bill movement for when the session resumes next week.
30% protected lands in California
Assembly Bill 3030, authored by Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), would officially mark it as a goal of California to have at least 30% of California lands and waters under state protection. Under the bill, California would be part of an international effort for 30% protection and would aim at stopping negative environmental impacts in California such as over fishing and climate change. AB 3030 also notes that the protected land would make parks and other open areas more accessible to minorities and others who mainly reside in cities with little access to such areas.
According to AB 3030, protected land would not be forced upon any private landholder. Instead, California will work the federal government holdings such as national parks, local communities, Native American tribes, other countries, and willing private landowners to conserve natural places.
The United Nations and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced earlier this year that the planet will need to be at least 30% protected by 2030 to avoid environmental collapse and to repair ecosystems across the world. If passed, California would become the first state to have the guidelines up for consideration and possible implementation.
Supporters of the bill, including Assemblyman Kalra, have noted the importance of the bill, but also said that the 30% protected areas should also be consistent with both housing and economic goals as well. Supporters also noted that AB 3030 has been moving through the state legislature and has been fairing better than the previously failed attempt at mass conservation, the Green New Deal.
“California would be the first state to formally adopt a 30 by 30 goal by 2030,” said Assemblyman Kalra last month.”I’m hoping it’ll survive. It’s an important goal that regardless of what else is happening. We cannot relent in our push forward to combat global climate change.
“Many people live here because it’s so beautiful in the environment. Let’s actually put some weight behind that.”
Assemblyman Kalra also noted the racial ‘nature gap‘ that AB 3030 would help close.
“When we think about conservation we sometimes think of it as something that’s happening way over there,” added Kalra. “It doesn’t have to be the case. We can really integrate this with urban conservation.”
Nearly 50% of California is already protected
AB 3030 has been highly divisive, barely passing the Assembly last month 45 to 19 with 15 abstentions. Critics have said that much of California is already protected both by California and by different federal systems.
“The reason why more people have been voting against AB 3030, both Democrats and Republicans, is because California has already met this,” lobbyist Chad Kramer told the Globe. Kramer has lobbied to open federal land in California for developments in the past. “For every acre that is opened to development it seems like 2 become protected out there.”
“Here’s why it doesn’t make sense. When you add in all federal and state land, that means all of the Bureau of Land Management’s land, which is about 15% of the entire state, the National Park Service, California state parks, Land protected by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the 20 million plus acres of National Forests, which is about 20% of the state, all other protected federal areas and other little state bits, it’s nearly half the state.
“The California Protected Areas Database actually added it all up, and California has, right now, over 49 million acres of natural protected areas. 47% of the state. Even before adding in city and local parks.
“They already did this. Hell, they can help make up a bunch of other states lagging behind. The US is roughly at 14% protected, so other states are lagging if the entire country does this 30% thing, but the US also has about 10% of the entire world’s protected land total.”
“This bill seems to want to bring more protected land closer to cities, but is not clearly stating that as a main reason. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting more parks near cities. Hell, having a gigantic protected piece of land bordering on your property is what a lot of homeowners are looking for.
“But you can’t state that you are pushing for 30% when we are actually nearing 50%. That’s just wrong. The bill would get more support if they made bringing more forests closer to cities or something. Right now supporters look like they have no idea what the parks and protected land situation is like in California.”
AB 3030 is expected to be heard in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee when the session resumes next week.