Scientific integrity—the use of quality science in decision making—is the hallmark of credible, effective policies for the conservation of biological diversity. This document includes big picture ideas for strengthening scientific, ecological, and economic underpinnings of federal lands and waters conservation as well as for engaging nonfederal owners in an all lands and waters conservation approach.
Fully one-third of the nation’s lands are held in the public trust as federally administered public lands. National parks, wilderness areas, national recreation areas, wild and scenic rivers, wildlife refuges, national forests, Bureau of Land Management lands, and national monuments are among the nation’s crown jewels. Together, public lands are wellsprings of biodiversity and support a burgeoning recreation and tourism economy, jobs in restoration and land stewardship, clean water, and climate regulation. The rest of the nation’s open spaces are administered by the states and private landowners and have important conservation values as well.
The United States also has 50,000 rivers totaling some 3.5 million river miles, 123,439 lakes, and 95,471 miles of coastline with additional ecosystem benefits. The Federal government is also responsible for how the oceans are utilized economically out to 200 hundred nautical miles and has greater regulatory authority over air space, waters and seabed out 12 miles.
America has an ever-increasing love affair with the great outdoors as record numbers turn out each year. Building on this support, the incoming administration has a unique opportunity to make conservation a top priority for all lands and waters conservation by: