Taos County supports 30x30 initiative - Albuquerque Journal

Taos County supports 30×30 initiative

Bighorn sheep graze in the Rio Grande Gorge near Pilar. The Taos County Commission on Tuesday passed a resolution in support of New Mexico’s efforts to conserve 30% of land and water by 2030. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

The Taos County Commission on Tuesday passed a resolution in support of New Mexico’s efforts to conserve 30% of land and water by 2030.

The state’s 30×30 movement mirrors a federal initiative.

Taos appears to be New Mexico’s first county to express explicit support for the initiative, following a blitz of opposition spurred by an out-of-state group.

Garrett VeneKlasen, New Mexico Wild’s northern conservation director, said the state has an obligation to preserve landscapes for future generations.

“The consequences of climate change, and the wildfires and aridity that we’re facing, if we don’t address them proactively through restoration and conservation … our children will suffer horribly,” he said.

The resolution encourages the county to start a community-driven planning process that will protect landscapes that are culturally important and contribute to the region’s outdoor recreation economy.

The American Stewards of Liberty, a Texas-based landowner advocacy group, has spent more than a year fighting 30×30.

Executive director Margaret Byfield presented to several counties, pitching the initiative as a “land grab.”

At least 19 of New Mexico’s 33 counties passed anti-30×30 resolutions drafted by the group.

New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst said the initiative respects private property rights and tribal sovereignty.

“All conservation on private land will continue to occur on a voluntary basis,” she said. “We just want these good stewards of the land to get credit for what they’re doing.”

The Taos County resolution notes the importance of “conserved private lands.”

“Working forests, farms and ranches protect open spaces, preserve threatened wildlife and help maintain New Mexico’s way of life,” the resolution said.

An advisory committee of state agency leaders meets quarterly to review ongoing conservation programs.

The group is expected to release a report to the governor in December.

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