NY Lawmakers Introduce Landmark ‘30x30’ Land and Water Conservation Legislation

New York’s Adirondack Mountain range.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 21) — Assemblymember Patricia Fahy (D — Albany) today announced the introduction of new legislation with Senator Todd Kaminsky (D — Long Beach) directing the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and relevant state agencies to set strategic goals for achieving the conservation of at least 30% of New York State’s land by 2030. The agencies would be tasked with identifying land available for conservation and prioritizing the conservation of land that would promote biodiversity, preserve open space and protect green space in urban areas. The bill would also ensure any conservation plan takes the needs of environmental justice communities into account.

Every 30 seconds, a football field worth of natural areas disappears to development in the United States. Over the last 10 years, natural weather disasters, exacerbated by a rapidly changing global climate, cost New York State and the federal government an estimated $37.3 billion in response and is projected to cost an additional $55 billion by 2029, according to Rebuild By Design, a coalition of New York’s leading infrastructure experts and stakeholders. Scientists warn that in order to bolster resilience to climate change and prevent mass extinctions of species critical to our ecosystem, we must preserve 30% of our lands and water systems globally by 2030.

In 2018, the Center for American Progress found that just 12% of total U.S. land is conserved or protected, while approximately 19% of New York State land is currently conserved or protected. With progress on 30x30 legislation stalled in Washington D.C., California lawmakers have also introduced state legislation, paving the way for a coordinated, state-led effort to achieve this goal.

“Our global and national ecosystems face extreme challenges as a result of climate change now and in the coming years,” said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy. “In the United States alone, 1 million acres are lost annually to development, while globally, 1 million species are now at risk of extinction due to habitat loss. New York State can play a pivotal role in meeting the 30x30 goal nationally by setting our own, similar goal here. I’m proud to introduce this legislation ensuring New York leads the nation once again on the issue of land and water conservation, continuing our long and proud legacy of protecting public lands.”

“It is imperative we do our part to conserve our land and water to ensure future generations can enjoy the natural beauty of our State after climate change,” said Senator Todd Kaminsky, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation. “I am proud to partner with Assemblymember Fahy to do just that while prioritizing the protection of public lands and facilitating equitable access to open space. Once again, New York is leading the way in combating climate change, tackling threats to our environment with bold, progressive solutions.”

“The Nature Conservancy applauds Assemblymember Fahy and Senator Kaminsky for proposing this legislation, aimed at addressing the unprecedented decline of biodiversity our planet is experiencing. By enacting a 30x30 goal, New York can further contribute to efforts around the world to conserve the lands and waters we all depend on. This goal would advance New York’s work fighting climate change, help protect clean water, and provide more access to the great outdoors,” said Jessica Ottney Mahar, New York policy and strategy director for The Nature Conservancy.

Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, “Our natural areas are one of our most vital environmental assets and help combat climate change and protect clean water. New Yorkers rely on conserved lands now more than ever as places to stay socially distant and this bill will help to expand public access to nature. Protecting our open spaces is one of NYLCV’s top priorities and we are thrilled to see this legislation to set a 30 by 30 goal for New York. We commend Assemblymember Fahy and Senator Kaminsky for their leadership.”

Member of NYS Assembly - 109th AD, representing Albany, Bethlehem, Guilderland, and New Scotland. Follows, replies ≠ endorsement.