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Thursday morning, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet released a statement welcoming a new federal initiative that supports a Senate effort he began in 2019. The Biden Administration’s “America the Beautiful” initiative is focused on achieving the conservation goal of conserving 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030 through locally-led and voluntary efforts.

The Arkansas Hills to the east of Salida and Tenderfoot Mountain could have become a target of development if the BLM “preferred” plan D were selected. Photo EcoFlight.

“Land and water conservation is a critical part of our effort to tackle the climate crisis. This report is a strong start and lays out a vision that aligns with the kind of conservation efforts we know to be successful in Colorado — efforts that take a locally led, collaborative, and inclusive approach and bring into the fold the private landowners, farmers, and ranchers who are already stewards of our natural resources. It’s the same approach that brought together the ranchers, hunters, anglers, and local elected leaders who worked for over a decade to draft the CORE Act.”

Bennet went on to say he was glad to see the administration’s commitment to empowering local communities to drive the process.

Here in Chaffee County, as in many other western counties and states, local conservation efforts have often been the driving force behind conservation efforts. In the past four years, they have also been the voice of local opposition to the opening of public lands to commercial development, and the marring of pristine public land and natural resources.

As the state looks toward the celebration next week of Public Lands Day (May 15) Bennet has been one of several  Western states legislative representatives who have kept preservation of our natural resources front and center. In 2019, Bennet and former U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) introduced a Senate resolution to conserve 30 percent of the land and 30 percent of the ocean within the United States by 2030.

“There’s a long road ahead to ensure that this is done right, and I expect the Biden Administration to continue to listen to Coloradans and individuals across the West as they work toward this goal,” adds Bennet. “The ‘America the Beautiful’ initiative is an opportunity to not only build climate resilience but also to create jobs and grow economies across the West.”