ESLT’s Executive Director/CEO, Kay Ogden

Eastern Sierra Land Trust’s Executive Director/CEO Kay Ogden has been appointed to serve on the California Natural Resources Agency’s 30×30 Partnership Coordinating Committee (PCC). The Committee, comprised of 18 environmental leaders from around the state, is tasked with fostering inclusive public communication and statewide coordination to advance California’s 30×30 Initiative – a commitment to conserve thirty percent of the state’s lands and coastal waters by 2030.

As part of its mandate, the PCC will organize and support the “30×30 Partnership,” an alliance of groups and leaders advancing 30×30 that is open to all. The 30×30 Partnership will meet regularly and will serve as a hub for dialogue, shared learning, coordination, and strategic planning.

In the last month, California endured a power crisis amid a record-setting heat wave, and braced against strong winds and debris flows as a tropical storm hovered off the southern coast. As the effects of climate change accelerate, the state’s 30×30 commitments have moved to the forefront of California’s climate agenda.

Representing the Sierra

Kay Ogden, who has served as Executive Director/CEO of Eastern Sierra Land Trust since 2013, will represent the vast Sierra region in the PCC. The experienced conservationist is a participant in the Land Trust Alliance’s Leadership Program, is vice chair of the California Council of Land Trusts, is a co-founder of the Sierra Consortium, and is a board member of the Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council. Katie Hawkins, California Program Manager for Outdoor Alliance, will represent the Sierra on the PCC alongside Ogden.

“I am honored to represent the Sierra on the 30×30 Partnership Coordinating Committee. The 30×30 Initiative is a once in a lifetime opportunity to unite our efforts to combat climate change through nature-based solutions while increasing equity and access to the outdoors for all,” said Ogden. “Coordinated efforts and fluid communication from Native partners, state and federal agencies, and nongovernmental organizations will be the key to achieving our state’s vital 30×30 commitments.”

Kay Ogden, center, receiving the Bureau of Land Management’s 2018 award for ESLT as the National Conservation Leadership Partner of the Year. On the right side of the photo, Sherri Lisius, Acting Project Manager for the BLM. On the left, past-ESLT Conservation Program Director, Sus Danner.

“Native nations and conservation organizations across California share a strong responsibility in protecting our irreplaceable natural resources and wildlife,” said Teri Red Owl, Executive Director of the Owens Valley Indian Water Commission. “Kay’s appointment is good news for everyone in the state who values equity, conservation and collaboration.”

30×30 in California

The kick-off meeting of the 30×30 Partnership is on September 28th, in Sacramento. If successful, the PCC and 30×30 Partnership will serve as models for coordination across the country. Since the Biden administration launched the America the Beautiful Initiative in May of 2021, 30×30 has taken the national stage, with states across the country urgently seeking ways to meet their own 30×30 commitments.

An early adopter, Governor Newsom committed the state to 30×30 through his Nature Based Solutions Executive Order N-82-20 in October of 2020. Achieving the Initiative’s commitments will guarantee the protection of millions of additional acres of land and wildlife habitat within the state.

California is committed to protecting 30% of its land and coastal waters by 2030. Pictured above, the 4,100-acre Hunewill Ranch Conservation Easement, which was permanently protected by ESLT in 2020. Photo by Dwayne Leonard.

With 22% of the state currently protected, California must protect an additional 8% of its land and coastal waters by 2030 to meet its conservation commitment. “These commitments are crucial to our future. Healthier lands and oceans absorb more carbon, helping to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. Well-managed ecosystems protect water sources and reduce the risk of climate-fueled disasters like wildfires and flooding,” said Ogden.

Meeting the state’s 30×30 commitments goes beyond protecting land and coastal waters. A foundational principle of the 30×30 Initiative is to improve equitable access to nature for all.  “As Californians who treasure the state’s special places, it is up to all of us to ensure everyone–including low-income families and communities of color, who have been historically left out of environmental decision-making and face inequitable access to nature and its benefits–is able to experience the joy of being around thriving natural spaces close to home. The Partnership Coordinating Committee has an incredible opportunity to improve equity and bring all voices to the table,” shared Ogden.