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Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden administration on Thursday released a broad blueprint outlining its aspiration to conserve 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.

Why it matters: The target is meant to serve multiple goals, including biodiversity, water protection, natural carbon sequestration, outdoor recreation access, public health and more.

  • The new report describes how it hopes to begin transforming the "locally led and voluntary nationwide conservation goal" into on-the-ground protections.
  • But the report for the administration's National Climate Task Force is also a highly promotional document, with many supportive quotes from a wide range of stakeholders that arrive before the policy portions.

How it works: The document lays out principles for how to achieve the target under what the White House is calling the "America the Beautiful" initiative, including:

  • A "collaborative and inclusive" approach that works with — and takes cues from — local parties like indigenous communities, businesses, local and state governments, fishers and others.
  • Pursuing an approach that that emphasizes jobs and public health. For instance it notes that conservation supports the travel and outfitting sectors, while parks and tree cover cool urban areas on hot days.
  • Honoring private property rights and "recognizing and rewarding the voluntary conservation efforts" among fishers, ranchers, farmers and forest owners.
  • Using a science-based approach and "indigenous and traditional ecological knowledge."
  • Honoring tribal sovereignty and the priorities of tribal nations.

The intrigue: There's no hard and fast definition of "conservation," so the report lays out two ways the administration hopes to track and document progress toward the goal with "comprehensive and inclusive" accounting.

One way is through creation of an "American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas" that collects "baseline information on the amount and types of lands and waters that are being managed for conservation and restoration purposes."

  • Agencies including the U.S. Geological Survey, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would be involved.
  • It would collect information from a wide array of databases, states, tribes, scientists, local governments and more to provide a baseline for how much land is currently conserved and restored.

The other is that the Interior Department, working with other agencies, will later this year start publishing an annual "America the Beautiful" report that tracks progress on the conservation push.

Go deeper

Biden's new goal: 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by July 4th

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden will announce Tuesday a new goal to get 160 million Americans fully vaccinated and at least one shot administered to 70% of individuals by the Fourth of July holiday, senior administration officials told reporters.

Why it matters: The administration had previously set goals of 100 million and 200 million shots — not full vaccinations. It aims to achieve the new goals with a plan to make vaccines more accessible and a continued public education campaign aimed at harder-to-reach and more-hesitant communities.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.