Precious New York (photo: Carl Heilman/Governor's Office)
Warmer spring weather ushers in reminders of the natural beauty we have in New York, from the vibrant blooms of the dogwood and magnolia trees to the return of migratory birds singing. People swarm back to our local parks where picnic baskets and roller skates make a long-awaited resurgence. The Hudson River teems to life with the reappearance of kayakers who can be spotted from way above by hikers in the Catskills.
We enjoy some of the most marvelous landscapes the United States has to offer, and we must do more to protect them. We cannot afford to take our natural beauty for granted.
Legislation recently passed in the State Assembly and currently pending in the State Senate would establish a goal for New York to conserve 30% of our land and water by 2030 to preserve the state’s natural wonders and ensure every generation can enjoy and benefit from our water, woods, and wildlife. Sponsored by Assemblymember Pat Fahy and Senator Todd Kaminsky, New York’s 30 by 30 legislation mirrors the goals of the federal “America the Beautiful” initiative to conserve at least 30% of our nation’s land and water by 2030, a goal developed by scientists alarmed by the rapid loss of plants and animals happening around the world.
If passed by the State Senate and signed into law by the Governor, this important measure would direct the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and other state agencies to create a conservation plan to protect biodiversity and avoid the worst effects of global warming. The plan will prioritize conservation and restoration projects in disadvantaged communities, honor Tribal sovereignty, and preserve critical habitats and migratory corridors for wildlife.
The world is at a pivotal point, as we face dual crises from rapid habitat loss and climate change. The Nature Conservancy remains strongly committed to supporting legislation that protects people and wildlife for generations to come. The passage of 30 by 30 will be a momentous win for New York and will help address many pressing threats not only to our famous scenic landscapes, but to the health of our communities. A statewide goal would reinvigorate collaborative efforts to conserve the lakes and bays where we swim and fish; the farms that grow our food; the forests and wetlands that provide wildlife habitat; the sources of our clean drinking water; and the places New Yorkers rely on for jobs, adventure, and solace.
The Nature Conservancy is proud of the hard work and extensive collaboration that went into advancing a 30 by 30 goal for New York State. We’re excited to see it passed in the Senate and signed by Governor Hochul and look forward to collaborating further to help the state achieve this critical goal.
New Yorkers often set an example for how to usher in a better future. Last month, the New York Legislature and Governor prioritized environmental investments in the state budget including the $4.2 million Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Bond Act that will go before voters this fall and a $400 million Environmental Protection Fund. This November, we all need to flip our ballots and vote yes to pass the Bond Act, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect clean drinking water, create jobs, reduce pollution, and build parks.
We applaud our state leaders for recognizing the importance of conserving the natural resources we all depend on and look forward to celebrating the enactment of 30 by 30 legislation. Let’s continue to build on this momentum by supporting the Bond Act to protect clean water, create jobs, and improve quality of life in communities throughout New York.
Jessica Ottney Mahar is New York Policy and Strategy Director at The Nature Conservancy. On Twitter @jessicaottney & @nature_org.