On May 6, 2021, the Biden administration launched its “America the Beautiful” initiative, an effort to “conserve and restore” 30 perecent of our country’s lands and waters. The administration’s proposed American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas (Atlas) will be used to measure progress on conservation, restoration and stewardship. The Atlas will be a tool that provides information for Americans about the lands and waters that are conserved or restored.
Wednesday was the second of three listening sessions that are part of a public comment period on the initiative. Specifically, the administration is asking for input about the Atlas and how it can serve as a useful tool for the public. Below is the 90-second (capped) public comment that I delivered on the need to consider biodiversity in this initiative:
My name is Malia Libby, and I am a conservation associate with Environment America. We work to protect the places that Americans love and promote environmental values.
My work is focused on protecting pollinators, and I want to share the importance of 30-by-30, through the example of the much-loved monarch butterfly.
The monarch’s up to 3,000 mile migration is a stunning example of how our conservation efforts are connected. From rural to urban, domestic to abroad, this butterfly knows no boundaries when it comes to finding a place to rest or to establishing the next generation of monarchs.
Yet, the eastern population has dropped by 80% in the past few decades; the western population is a tiny fraction of the millions of monarchs that once graced California’s skies.
To save the monarchs, we need to protect and expand habitat – places filled with native milkweed and flowering plants.
America the Beautiful is about protecting places. By doing that, we also protect the species that live in or migrate through those spaces. The monarch is just one species, but it tells the tale of why this effort is needed.
Please proceed with an Atlas that prioritizes biodiversity and provides abundant habitat for all of America’s plants and animals.