The Resources Agency’s ambitious“30X30” program has a much great chance of success with adoption of a new state budget.
EHL strongly supports the effort to protect 30% of California for biodiversity, climate resilience, and social equity purposes. We submitted extensive comments, and were pleased to find that regional Natural Community Conservation Plans/Habitat Conservation Plans – the centerpiece of EHL’s work for the last 30 years – are given top priority. This is fully justified, as these science-based programs which save land close to urban communities fulfill all 30X30 objectives.
EHL participated in two coalitions that advocated for 30X30 funding. While the Governor’s initial budget did not match the enthusiasm of his Resources Agency, after input from the Legislature, substantial sums were included in the final budget. Will these sums protect the 6 millions acres technically called for by 30X30? No, but they will nevertheless do a world of good.
As a summary, this year’s state budget bills provided $1.1 billion for “nature based solutions” for climate change, with $669 million of that already allocated. This means that about half of the funds are not guaranteed and will be the subject of future budgetary discretion.
Of most relevance to NCCPs/HCPs are:
Department of Fish & Wildlife
- $90 million to support nature-based solutions, including $36 million for NCCP Planning and Land Acquisition.
- $54 million for wetlands restoration
- $42 million for wildlife corridors
Wildlife Conservation Board
- $222 million to protect fish and wildlife, including endangered species, from changing climate conditions
- $150 million for nature-based climate solutions, including oaks, grasslands, and riparian habitat. Forty percent of these funds are targeted to benefit climate-vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, or California Native American tribes
- $79 million for watershed protection and climate resiliency in Southern California.
- $40 million to address drought impacts on fish and wildlife
- $8 million for the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Rescue Program
Needless to say, EHL will have many ideas for how to spend the funds, with an emphasis on science-based preserve systems. We will also see important opportunities for projects accessible to disadvantaged communities, for tribal partnerships, and for preservation of land that, by stopping expansion of development into the wildland-urban interface, reduces the hazard posed by fire to vulnerable communities.
We salute the California Resources Agency for its vision and leadership.