Biden and Newsom make big conservation announcements

How new state and federal conservation policies can help our redwoods

a hiker in a blue jacket walks through a lush, green forest of ferns and old-growth redwoods
The Biden Administration’s recently announced Public Lands Rule is good news for redwood forests managed by the Federal Bureau of Land Management, which include the Headwaters Forest Reserve in Humboldt County. Photo by Humboldt State University.

As Earth Month comes to a close and Spring takes hold in earnest across the redwood range, let’s take stock of some recent conservation policy announcements.   

Just in the last few weeks, we’ve seen the Biden Administration announce a brand new rule governing how the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) stewards our public lands, while California’s Newsom Administration set forth a slew of new targets to center nature and conservation as tools to combat the climate crisis. We’re excited about these announcements, which directly benefit our redwood forests.  

The Biden Administration’s finalized Public Lands Rule sets forth critical guidance to the BLM “to improve the health and resilience of public lands in the face of a changing climate; conserve important wildlife habitat and intact landscapes; facilitate responsible development; and better recognize unique cultural and natural resources on public lands.” In other words, the rule recognizes that conservation is an indelible part of the BLM’s mandate, putting conservation values on equal footing with historic extractive land uses such as mining, oil and gas drilling, and grazing.    

This new rule is unequivocally good news for our redwood forests that are managed by the BLM in California—including the famed Headwaters Forest Reserve, the King Range National Conservation Area, and the Lost Coast Headlands. The League looks forward to our continued close partnership with the BLM to ensure that the public enjoys these beautiful groves long into the future.  

Crew members in hard hats carrying large bags plant seedlings up a barren slope with sequoias in the background
The Newsom Administration has set a target to manage 11.9 million acres of California forest by 2045 for biodiversity protection, carbon storage, and water supply protection. Here, crews plant native conifer seedlings to restore Alder Creek Grove. Photo by Smith Robinson Multimedia, courtesy of Save the Redwoods League.

Here in California, the Newsom Administration set forth bold, nature-based solution goals to use the state’s diversity of landscapes and ecosystems to absorb more carbon and fight the climate crisis. For instance, the announcement sets a target to manage 11.9 million acres of California forest by 2045 for biodiversity protection, carbon storage, and water supply protection—an area roughly two times the size of Vermont!  

We’re thrilled about this announcement. The League has been a leader in making the case that nature—and specifically protected redwood forests—is a critical tool in our toolbox for fighting climate change. We’re glad to see the Newsom Administration take this important step to recognize the essential role of conservation in building climate resilience. It’s also perfectly complementary to the state’s innovative 30×30 Strategy to protect 30% of California’s land and water by 2030—a goal we also fully support.  

So what’s next? Well, the League and the broader conservation community are gearing up for an important campaign this year and advocating for a climate bond that would direct billions of dollars to our state’s fight against climate change—including critical funding for the exact type of nature-based solutions called for by the Newsom Administration. In the face of a budget shortfall, now is the time to embrace a climate bond to advance nature-based solutions and 30×30 goals, so our redwood forests can be protected for future generations. Please consider raising your voice!    

Spring is a time of promise and rebirth, for spring lambs and bright-green redwood tips. These new policies from Sacramento and Washington, DC, reflect that energy, and it’s worth expressing gratitude for this bounty. But we know it’s not enough to simply celebrate these announcements. The work is just beginning. We must follow up with action, with accountability, with votes. These policies are seeds of hope for our redwoods; it’s time to tend our garden. 

About the author

Ben Friedman is the Government Affairs and Public Grants Officer at Save the Redwoods League.

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