The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

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By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher, Sun-Telegraph 

County Discusses '30 x 30' Plan


April 28, 2021 | View PDF

On Jan. 27, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order on “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.”

“The United States and the world face a profound climate crisis. We have a narrow moment to pursue action at home and abroad in order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of that crisis and to seize the opportunity that tackling climate change presents. Domestic action must go hand in hand with United States international leadership, aimed at significantly enhancing global action,” the introduction of the Executive Order says.

Within the Executive Order is a plan of “conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.” The clause has been coined as “30 x 30.”

Sec. 216 of the Executive Order is “Conserving Our Nation’s Lands and Waters.” The section directs the Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, The Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, and “the heads of other relevant agencies,” to submit a report to the National Climate Task Force within 90 days of the Executive Order signing. Sec. 216 calls for “recommending steps steps that the United States should take, working with State, Local, Tribal, and territorial governments, agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, and other key stakeholders, to achieve the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.”

The part that is of concern and frequent debate is if the 30 percent goal includes existing land under the management of the federal government, if the 30 percent goal is 30 percent of each county, and what that will do to private ownership and local tax revenue.

In the April 19 Cheyenne County Commissioners meeting, the commissioners met with landowners and the curious regarding the 30 x 30 proposal.

“I’m going to call this a land grab,” said Commissioner Phil Sanders. “This is taking place all over the country.”

Morrill County Commission Chairman Jeff Metz was also in attendance. He said of Morrill County’s 680,000 acres, under the 30 percent goal, about 275,000 acres would be removed from use. One of the issues that cannot be answered yet, according to Metz, is if the goal is outright ownership or perpetual easement.

“This is the first of a number of things that are going to come under the heading of climate change,” said Dan Carlson, who was also in attendance.

He said there is also a “re-wilding” proposal where a “good portion of land” will be returned to its before-humans state, including the introduction of predator animals.

The Executive Order also directs the Department of the Interior to put a pause on all new oil and natural gas leasing on public lands and offshore.

To read more on the Executive Order, see


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