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At the April 19 Grand County Commission meeting, Commissioner Sarah Stock introduced letters of support for President Joe Biden’s “30×30” initiative, part of a larger policy called America the Beautiful, which aims to have 30% of the nation’s functioning land and water ecosystems protected by 2030. The initiative is in response to shrinking biodiversity across the planet, climate change, mass extinctions, and threats to the systems that supply food, water and other resources for humans. One letter is addressed to the president, and another to the secretary of the interior, Deb Haaland. The motion also included a county resolution of support.

Stock emphasized that the 30×30 initiative encourages participation by private landowners and encompasses working landscapes in its definition of conservation.

Stock said she felt it was important for Grand County to weigh in; the state of Utah, she said, doesn’t often support such initiatives, so she thought Grand County’s support could be significant.

“Also, it’s important to highlight that lands deserve protection because of their inherent ecological function, and importance in mitigating climate change—not just because they’re iconic or prized for recreation by various groups,” Stock said. “Oftentimes when we’re talking about preserving land or public lands, our economy is so dependent on recreation that that’s what we focus on. But this initiative is acknowledging the inherent value of a functioning ecology and how important that is to our future as humans on this planet.”

The commission voted unanimously in favor of the letters and resolution.