The Department of the Interior, in coordination with the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce and the Council on Environmental Quality, invited public comment and announced listening sessions regarding the development of the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas (Atlas), a new tool that will be used to reflect baseline information on the lands and waters that are conserved or restored.
The Atlas is part of the America the Beautiful initiative, a locally led and voluntary nationwide effort that aims to conserve, connect, and restore 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030. The initiative focuses on addressing the interconnected climate and biodiversity crises, advancing environmental justice and equitable access to nature, and strengthening the economy.
The Atlas is intended to be an accessible, updated, and comprehensive tool through which to measure the progress of conservation, stewardship, and restoration efforts across the United States in a manner that reflects the goals and principles of the America the Beautiful initiative. The 60-day comment period will provide members of the public an opportunity to inform how the Atlas can reflect a continuum of conservation actions, recognizing that many uses of lands and waters can be consistent with the long-term health of natural systems and contribute to addressing climate change and environmental injustices.
An interagency working group, co-led by the Interior Department’s U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will use the feedback from the public, states, Tribal Nations, scientists, and a wide range of stakeholders to inform development of the Atlas with a goal to release a beta version of the Atlas by the end of the year.
Last month, the Biden-Harris administration released the first annual progress report on the America the Beautiful initiative. The report outlined the collective work the Administration pursued in 2021, consistent with the first-ever national conservation goal established by a President.
Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help support the America the Beautiful initiative. The law provides the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history, funds water management and drought resilience, addresses legacy pollution from orphan wells and abandoned mines, and makes major investments in clean drinking water.
More information on submitting public comment can be found below:
Interested parties are invited to submit written comments to Regulations.gov on or before March 4, 2022.
The interagency working group will host three 90-minute public listening sessions. Sessions will be livestreamed on the Events page. Interested parties who would like to share verbal comments during these sessions must register in advance using the links below, as speaking order will be determined by registration queue:
- Thursday, January 13, 2022, 2:00-3:30pm ET
- Wednesday, January 19, 2022, 6:00-7:30pm ET
- Friday, January 21, 2022, 11:00am-12:30pm ET