For Earth Day, California Governor Gavin Newsom joined the groundbreaking of the world’s largest wildlife overpass, the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, which will provide a vital bridge for mountain lions and other Santa Monica Mountain wildlife to roam safely between two large areas of habitat.
The state also announced the launch of strategies to achieve California’s first-in-the-nation 30×30 conservation goal and better manage our natural and working lands to combat climate change and protect the state’s communities and ecosystems.
Governor Newsom has put forward a historic $37.6 billion climate package – more than what most other countries are spending – to protect all Californians from the costs and impacts of climate change, while accelerating efforts to reduce the dependence on big polluters and fossil fuels.
“No challenge poses a greater threat to our way of life, prosperity, and future as a state than climate change,” said Newsom. “With our rich natural heritage on the front lines of this crisis, California is building on our global climate leadership with bold strategies that harness the power of nature to fight climate change and protect our communities and ecosystems. Strong partnerships across the board will be critical to these efforts, and the project we’re lifting up today is an inspiring example of the kind of creative collaborations that will help us protect our common home for generations to come.”
The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing will span 10 lanes of Highway 101 and an adjacent road, improving wildlife connectivity to support biodiverse ecosystems. The state has provided $58 million in funding for the public-private conservation project, which is being facilitated by Caltrans, while philanthropy has raised more than $34 million in funding. In partnership with the Legislature, the Governor last year advanced $105 million to fund wildlife crossings, and is this year proposing an additional $50 million for this priority – including $10 million in new funding for the crossing in Liberty Canyon.
Moving to protect mountain lions and other wildlife, the Governor in 2020 signed legislation prohibiting the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides, which are known to cause chronic growth and reproduction issues. Also, the California High-Speed Rail Authority and the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency announced the award of a $3.125 million grant to study the Pacheco Pass wildlife overcrossing near the near the San Jose to Merced high-speed rail project section.
The Pathways to 30×30: Accelerating Conservation of California’s Nature strategy and Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy released responds directly to the Governor’s nature-based solutions executive order, which identified California’s lands as a critical yet underutilized sector in the fight against climate change. These lands cover 90 percent of California’s 105 million acres, and can remove and store carbon emissions, limit future carbon emissions into the atmosphere, and buffer climate impacts. Climate-smart management of state lands also safeguards public health and safety, protects food and water supplies, and enhances equity.
Pathways to 30×30 outlines a strategy to achieve the state’s first-in-the-nation goal to conserve 30 percent of California’s lands and coastal waters by 2030 in order to protect biodiversity, expand access to nature and tackle climate change. Scientists from around the world agree that conserving one-third of the planet by 2030 is needed to combat climate change, protect people from climate impacts that are already here, and to limit the mass extinction of plant and animal life. It also represents a historic opportunity to strengthen our connection to nature, especially for communities that have historically lacked access, and to build partnerships with Native American leaders and groups to steward lands and waters.
California has conserved 24 percent of its land and 16 percent of coastal waters. To reach 30 percent by 2030, the state’s strategy lays out several concurrent pathways, including accelerating regionally-led conservation, buying strategic lands for conservation and access, expanding voluntary conservation easements, and aligning investments to maximize conservation benefits. Empowering local and regional partners is essential to achieve this target, and the strategy establishes a 30×30 Partnership to organize this coordination and collaboration. Partners include federal agencies, California Native American tribes, county governments, land trusts, resource conservation districts, environmental conservation non-governmental organizations, and others.
The Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy establishes California’s approach to meeting climate change goals through improved management of state lands. Healthy landscapes can remove and store carbon, limit future greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, and buffer climate impacts. Unhealthy landscapes have the opposite effect – they release more greenhouse gas than they store and worsen climate risks to people and nature. The strategy defines eight landscape types that California will better manage, including forests, farms, communities, and wetlands. It highlights priority nature-based solutions that combat climate change and help meet California’s broader environmental, economic, and social objectives. The strategy also charts near-term actions and underscores partnerships as essential to all of this work.
The two strategies were shaped by over a year of public engagement. More than 4,100 Californians provided direct input through more than a dozen public meetings, regionally-based workshops, expert topical panels on key concepts such as equity and science, and comments on draft strategies.