Today, the White House launched the America the Beautiful Interagency Working Group (IWG). Co-chaired by Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Brenda Mallory, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo, the working group will coordinate interagency efforts to deliver on President Biden’s “America the Beautiful” initiative, a locally-led, nationally-scaled effort to conserve and restore at least 30 percent of our nation’s lands and waters by 2030.
The Interagency Working Group convened to discuss the progress made-to-date to implement the America the Beautiful initiative, including sharing recent actions each Department has undertaken to support locally driven, place-based conservation efforts. These efforts will deliver increased protection for the water, air, land, and communities that we all depend upon for our health and the health of our economy.
- White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory provided an overview of President Biden’s historic conservation goal, reiterating the principles in the America the Beautiful report that will guide the Biden-Harris Administration’s approach to our land, water, and wildlife stewardship efforts. Chair Mallory highlighted the need for agencies to work together to expand support for collaborative, locally-led conservation efforts to achieve the President’s national conservation goal, as well as reiterated how the Administration can continue to tackle the climate and nature crises, address inequities in outdoor spaces, and strengthen local economies.
- Secretary Deb Haaland outlined the Interior Department’s progress in the six areas of early focus outlined in the report, including advancing Tribally led conservation priorities; enhancing wildlife habitat; increasing access to outdoor recreation; investing in restoration and resilience; incentivizing and rewarding private land stewardship; and creating more parks in nature-deprived communities. Secretary Haaland also announced that the National Park Service has identified 19 projects that will receive funding, as part of the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program, that support urban communities’ efforts to create new outdoor recreation spaces and reinvigorate existing parks.
- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted how USDA’s work will focus on partnering with private landowners and state and local governments to drive conservation through voluntary, locally-driven efforts on private and working lands. USDA’s Natural Resources Conversation Service, Farm Service Administration, and Forest Service teams are collaborating and will take stakeholder input this fall to understand which combination of tools can work for locally-led landscape-scale conservation efforts around the country.
- Nicole LeBeouf, Assistant Administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, highlighted NOAA’s ongoing efforts to support the America the Beautiful initiative, including through stakeholder listening sessions and by convening a subcommittee of the Fishery Management Council Coordinating Committee to develop a common understanding among the eight regional councils about area-based management measures that could support the America the Beautiful initiative. NOAA’s continuing efforts also include expanding the National Marine Sanctuary System, with a focus on designating new sanctuaries that align with the Administration’s goals to address nature loss, climate change, and equity, including through enhanced engagement with underserved and tribal communities. NOAA will also soon announce selected projects for the National Coastal Resilience Fund that will advance restoration or enhancement of natural features, while also improving habitat for fish and wildlife.
- EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox provided an overview of funding in the proposed Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal that will further the goals of the America the Beautiful initiative. Highlights include more than $1.7 billion to EPA Geographic Programs and $132 million to the National Estuary Program. These programs invest directly in ecosystems and local communities to conserve and restore natural habitats, protect communities from the impacts of climate change, and bring the recreational, economic, and biodiversity benefits of thriving natural resources to underserved communities.
The America the Beautiful IWG will meet quarterly, and its membership includes senior leadership from a wide selection of agencies. Membership will continue to expand to other agencies to achieve an all-of-government approach. Agencies currently participating in the America the Beautiful IWG include:
- Council on Environmental Quality
- Department of the Interior
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Defense
- Environmental Protection Agency
- General Service Administration
- Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
- Domestic Policy Council
- Climate Policy Office
- Office of Management and Budget
- Office of Science and Technology Policy
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Natural Resource Conservation Service
- U.S. Forest Service
- Farm Service Agency
- National Park Service
- Bureau of Land Management
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Bureau of Indian Affairs
- U.S. Geological Survey
- Office of Insular Affairs
- Bureau of Ocean Energy Management