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  • Writer's pictureBrian Boner

30x30 Arrives In Force

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

There has been a lot of clamor regarding the Biden Administration’s 30x30 goal and for good reason. Their stated objective is to “conserve” 30% of land and water in the United States by 2030. Of course, none of the proponents of this goal have officially defined what they mean by conservation. If it meant actively managing regenerative resources for the benefit of current and future generations, then that is what we do every day in this state. The alternative we were worried about is the definition of "conservation" being locking up large portions of the country for non-use. As this policy continues to materialize, it is clear the powers that be are choosing to lock down significant portions of the American West over tried-and-true management practices.

Map of the "Proposed Buffalo Commons" Outlined in Blue

This radical agenda is reminiscent of the “Buffalo Commons” discussion of the 1980s. This plan would revert large portions of the American West, including a significant portion of our state, to a federally controlled no man's land. According to the authors of the original proposal, this includes the following:

“We believe that over the next generation the Plains will, as a result of the largest, longest-running agricultural and environmental miscalculation in American history, become almost totally depopulated. At that point, a new use for the region will emerge, one that is in fact so old that it predates the American presence. We are suggesting that the region be returned to its original pre-white state, that it be, in effect, deprivatized.”

As with many academic proposals, there are no consequences for being comically wrong. Of course, the plains have not "almost totally" depopulated over the past 35 years. And while a few eggheads from New Hampshire might think otherwise, the federal government exerting its outsized power to influence even a few citizens to leave their homes is thoroughly un-American.

The 30x30 agenda is an aggressive policy rooted in the exact same philosophy as the "Buffalo Commons". The two proposals share a clear disdain for our state and others like it coupled with the arrogance of thinking one can micromanage land from thousands of miles away. They both erroneously believe that the best way to manage a renewable resource is to not use it at all. By treating the American West as some sort of holy site or museum, these ideologies guarantee mismanagement of our precious natural resources.

While there has been no official announcement regarding the rollout of the 30x30 plan, there have been two recently proposed changes to BLM policy which are clearly in line with this goal. The first is to allow for "conservation" (i.e. non-use) leases, the second is to shut down large portions of southwest Wyoming through the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan. Both proposals signify a stark departure from current practice and are well outside the bounds of federal law.

One wonders why all this is needed to preserve the landscape within the scope of the multiple use mandate the BLM currently has. After all, if a particular piece of federal ground is under stress, the BLM currently has the ability to reduce grazing units. Furthermore, the State of Wyoming has a long track record of working with the federal government and others across multiple jurisdictions in order to improve landscape management. A perfect example of this is the State of Wyoming's work to preserve wildlife migration corridors, including those in the Rock Springs area.

The Select Federal Natural Resource Management Committee has been closely engaged with the BLM as they move towards these goals at the behest of the current administration. This includes responding within the federal process. We have registered our opposition to the conservation rule and will likely do the same for the Rock Springs Resource Managment Plan this week. Additionally, we have given the chance for Wyoming citizens to respond to these changes when the federal government has not given them the opportunity to do so, such as during the implementation of the "conservation" lease rule.

Wyoming has long lived with the outsized influence of the federal government in our state. While it has always been a challenge to work with such a large, cumbersome bureaucracy, it has more or less worked to this point. The Rock Springs RMP in particular represents a stark departure from this tradition. The cards may be stacked against us now, but no matter what comes our way the select committee and I will continue to fight for our way of life.

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