California governor calls for protecting 30% of state land

Gov. Gavin Newsom
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order to protect nearly a third of California’s land and coastal waters.
(Associated Press)

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday to protect nearly a third of California’s land and coastal waters in his latest effort to fight climate change that he has blamed for recent record-breaking wildfires.

He directed state agencies to pursue actions that will remove climate-warming carbon from the atmosphere.

Newsom, who made the announcement in a walnut orchard 25 miles outside of Sacramento, said innovative farming practices, restoring wetlands, better managing forests, planting more trees and increasing the number of parks are all potential tools.


The goal is to conserve 30% of the state’s lands and coastal waters in the next decade as part of a larger global effort. California is the first state to join 38 countries that have made similar commitments, Newsom said.

“Thirty by 30 by 2030 is the mandate,” Newsom said. “California, as the fifth-largest economy in the world, needs to flex its muscles, needs to assert itself, and to advance that cause, not only as it relates to its global impacts but hopefully jumpstart similar efforts in other states across this country.”

Newsom said the effort would build on the state’s legacy of protecting open space, the environment and biodiversity.

This is the second major climate change directive from the governor since a string of massive wildfires broke out in mid-August. Fires have burned a record amount of land this year, mostly across Northern California, killed 31 people, destroyed nearly 9,000 homes, businesses and other structures, and produced massive amounts of air pollution.

Last month, Newsom directed state regulators to come up with rules to ban sales of new gas-powered passenger cars and trucks by 2035. He said the plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35%.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief questioned the legality of Newom’s effort to ban sales of those cars.


Environmental and other groups applauded the latest announcement.

“This is environmental leadership at its best,” said John Podesta, founder of the Center for American Progress. “Governor Newsom has laid out a hopeful and ambitious vision that, in the face of a changing climate and a worsening extinction crisis, will safeguard California’s natural wonders for the benefit of every person in the state.”