Standing Up for Our Wild Places

President Biden answered the call

By Kyersten Siebenaler

Growing up, my weekends were full of taking advantage of the Flathead Valley’s incredible outdoors. Hopping in the car for 45 minutes brings us to Glacier National Park to hike, or perhaps to snowshoe in the Jewel Basin. In my youth, I thought that every place was just as beautiful and protected as my Montana home. Reality tells a different story.

Our nation’s land and waters have been calling out for help: we are losing two football fields worth of land and water every minute in the United States. There are 3 billion fewer birds in North America than there were in 1970, and many beloved North American species are endangered.

On Jan. 27, President Biden answered the call. He signed an executive order to protect 30 percent of U.S. lands and oceans by the year 2030. Biden’s commitment is the most ambitious conservation goal in American history, and we aren’t alone. The “30 by 30” goal is part of a global movement to ensure the survival of the natural ecosystems that provide the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. It is also a step that the vast majority of Americans (an estimated four out of five voters) support.

I am heartened to see leaders standing up for our wild places so that we can keep enjoying our purple mountain majesties, amber waves of grain, and shining seas. As with any legacy, protecting our public lands is a long-term goal that requires renewal and sustained progress. Thank you, President Biden, for committing the U.S. to such a bold goal.

Now, let’s change that commitment into concrete policy. With any luck, more children will grow up with a childhood as adventurous and beautiful as my own.

Kyersten Siebenaler

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