Biologists tell us we’re in a global crisis for biodiversity, as countless species of animals and plants could be extinct in 50 to 100 years—unless we drastically change our sprawling land use and protect far more wild habitat; probably at least “Half Earth” is needed as places where nature can dominate. Aiming for 30 percent over the next decade is seen as an achievable “stepping stone” toward an eventual 50 percent—called “Nature Needs Half”. The Sierra Club has joined the global Nature Needs Half initiative.
We need to preserve Nature so that Nature can preserve us – as, truly, Nature is our support system.
California became the first state to adopt “30 by 30” as official state policy, in an October 2020 Executive Order by Governor Gavin Newsom. And in January 2021, a week after his inauguration, President Biden gave a national 30 by 30 executive order—his program is dubbed “America the Beautiful.”
In addition to fighting species extinction, “30 by 30” directly addresses climate change: protecting natural lands enhances the carbon sequestration ability of lands and waters – whether unlogged forests, undisturbed desert soils, grasslands, or marine habitats.
Thus, 30 by 30 connects the fight for biodiversity and the fight to mitigate the climate crisis. Sierra Club volunteers and staff have long pushed both these goals, and now 30 by 30 embraces both and ties them together.
At present some 12 percent of the nation and about 22 percent of California (with more than average protected public lands) is considered “conserved”. (More next issue on defining “conserved”.)
To work with the state of California and assure its new policy will result in real positive action with significant conservation gains, Sierra Club in California set up the “California 30 by 30 task force”—with representatives from most of our Chapters. The Chapters have also identified local places important to them for conservation.
Local conservation priorities in our Chapter are --
Tres Hermanos Ranch-Upper Tonner Canyon a rural oasis between the urban sprawl of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Orange Counties, resting in the Puente-Chino Hills. This canyon is identified as an integral piece of a precious wildlife connection between Chino Hills State Park and the Puente Hills Preserve. A joint-powers authority, comprised of the City of Industry, Diamond Bar, and Chino Hills, reorganized the Tres Hermanos Conservation Authority in 2019 and promised to preserve the 2,450 acres of Tres Hermanos in perpetuity. Now, two of the cities have spoken of developing portions of this unprotected land. There is considerable public support for conserving the entire 5,700 acres of Tonner Canyon.
Castaic Proposed Wilderness Area the largest remaining block of undisturbed but unprotected habitat remaining on the Angeles National Forest. The Castaic area is an important biological crossroads and wildlife linkage, connecting the San Gabriel Mountains, Mojave Desert, Central Coast Range, and the Tehachapi Mountains. It is home to endangered and sensitive wildlife, including the majestic California condor, arroyo toad, California red-legged frog, least Bell’s vireo, willow flycatcher, spotted owl, and unarmored threespine stickleback (a native fish).
San Gabriel Mountains and the San Gabriel River are two important outdoor resources for park-poor Angelinos. Located in the Angeles National Forest the San Gabriels is a recreational oasis for over 4 million people a year and the source of the San Gabriel River. Our backyard national forest features a unique chaparral ecosystem that covers 700,000 acres, providing vital habitat for hundreds of species and drinking water for area cities.
In October 2014, President Obama declared 346,177 acres of existing federal land as the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. The designated area covers the Angeles National Forest and a portion of the neighboring San Bernardino National Forest. The designation provided additional resources for the San Gabriel Mountains and ensured that thousands of miles of streams, hiking trails, and other outdoor recreation opportunities would be protected.
Representative Judy Chu's current bill, the San Gabriel Mountains, Foothills, and River Protection Act adds almost 50,000 acres to the existing 109,167 National Forest Lands. This will create the San Gabriel National Recreation Area as a unit of the National Park System, the federal public lands agency with the best resources and track record for interpretive services. Specific areas will have wilderness designation, and specific river and creek segments will be part of the National Wild and Scenic River System
What about you? Get involved in your Chapter by contacting Sandra Cattell, your Chapter’s rep on the statewide 30 by 30 task force, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(You can also contact Anne Henny or Vicky Hoover, co-chairs of the statewide task force at anneth email@example.com or Vicky.firstname.lastname@example.org.