30 x 30

In the news

Biden Administration Targets 5.8 Million Acres in MT for 30×30

by | Oct 5, 2023 | 30x30 | 0 comments

September 20th, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a plan to create a 5.8 million-acre conservation area in Southwest Montana. It would encompass 9,000 square miles.

The Missouri Headwaters Conservation Areas proposed plan will be made up of 3,742, 220 acres of government owned land and 2,050,420 acres of private land. The State of Montana owns 500,000 acres in the designated area, however the Service launched the plan without notice to, or coordination with, the Governor or Attorney General.

The Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge anchors the conservation area. It is only 53,000 acres, but it provides an administrative base for the new federally protected area.  If the plan is finalized, it will establish the template that can be used in all States where the Service wants to exercise more control over private lands, restricting what private citizens can do with their property.

How Conservation Areas Conscript Private Property Into 30×30

The Service is planning to acquire 250,000 acres of private land in the new federally designated area by offering voluntary” conservation easements in perpetuity to landowners. Those who do not want to be a part of the program may not escape being targeted. The Service and its environmental organization partners have priority acquisitions in mind.  And the agency has an array of regulations and restrictions they can deploy to encourage compliance.

The plan will allow the Service to use Land and Water Conservation Funds to purchase conservation easements in perpetuity on the private lands.  Congress appropriates $900 million annually for this purpose as well as for direct acquisition of private lands.  Property rights advocates would like to see this funding permanently rescinded as the government already owns 40 percent of America. These funds allow them to gain control over the remaining private lands.

The Services goal is to create a protected area that connects the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Wyoming with the Crown of the Continent in central Montana, and the wilderness of central Idaho.  If authorized, this will be the largest area of land in America positioned to be permanently protected for the international 30×30 land grab.

How the Conservation Area is Created

A conservation area is created administratively by the federal agency.  Congress does not vote on the provision, nor do the people who are directly impacted.  It seems reasonable that the people who live in the community would have a greater say as to whether they want more federally controlled land in their region.  But this is not the case with conservation areas, making it easy for the Service to designate these in any State.

Because the federal government does not pay taxes on lands it owns, and conservation easements reduce the taxable value of the land by 40 percent or more, local governments will suffer irreparable economic harm in this five-county region of Montana. Nevertheless, the Service is only allowing these concerns to be registered through the public comment” process.

The pre-planning phase has already concluded where the Service partnered with two environmental groups, The Nature Conservancy and the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partners, to create the Land Planning Strategy” (LPS).  Now that the targeted land has been identified, the Service has publicly released a map encircling the private property that could be at risk.

They are allowing a limited window for the public, State and elected officials, and governing bodies to comment and formally register their positions.  The comment period closes on November 27th.  Originally, the Service had planned to end this as early as October 26th.

The Service has not revealed what environmental study it will be conducting as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.  In similar cases, such as the Everglades to Gulf Conservation Area in Florida, it is preparing an Environmental Assessment” rather than the more robust Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  The EIS study is what environmental groups use to prevent mining, oil and gas, timber harvesting and grazing projects to move forward.

Rich in Minerals

The Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology has identified significant mineral resources within the Missouri Headwaters region and is currently in the process of mapping potential critical and rare earth minerals in the proposed conservation area.  Today, there are six hard rock mines operating or permitted to operate inside the federal designation, with several more preparing to come online.

Stopping mineral exploration and development appears to be the primary objective of the conservation area.  The National Wildlife Refuge laws can restrict mining activities occurring on nearby lands.  Additionally, the device the Service is using to control the private land, conservation easements in perpetuity, prohibit all extractive activities.

The Biden Administration has already put in place numerous mineral withdrawals across the nation.  The administratively designated conservation area may be another tool it can effectively use to stop mineral development in America.

Natural Asset Scheme

If the conservation area is established, it would also qualify as a Hybrid Area” for the purpose of creating a Natural Asset Company” (NAC). A Hybrid Area is a combination of government owned lands, private lands, and sustainable communities in a connected ecosystem, described on the Intrinsic Exchange Group’s (IEG) website as a “conservation area.” The IEG is the group that has partnered with the New York Stock Exchange to create this new investment vehicle.

This will allow international investors such as Blackrock and and countries that currently control the supply of critical minerals, such as China, to buy an interest in the conservation area, reaping the promised financial gains. The Security Exchange Commission recently issued a rule to approve NAC’s allowing this new investment vehicle to monetize these natural resource rights.

The private landowners who sign a conservation easements in the conservation area will also become a part of the investment product. The conservation easement (or development right) becomes an asset exclusively owned by the easement holder. It can be enrolled as a part of the asset base for the NAC, separate from the land and without permission from the landowner.  The asset holders, not the landowner benefit from the financial gains.

Ground Zero for 30×30

The Service promotes conservation areas as a way to create connected wildlife corridors, build in climate resiliency for the climate crisis theory, and protect ecosystems on a landscape scale.  They claim this is all done with the voluntary cooperation of landowners, to keep working lands working while protecting them from development. They also promise the recreation community continued access, attempting to court this constituency into supporting the designation.

But the conservation areas boundary is a permanent designation, allowing the Service to manage the area under the National Wildlife Refuge system. Every private landowner within the area has to wonder when their number will be called to voluntarily” sign up.

It will be the administrative state, not the people or the elected representatives that will make that determination.

What You Can Do to Help Stop the Land Grab

1.         Call Congress:

Call your congressman and request they offer a floor amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill that:

👉 Prohibits Funding for Conservation Areas.

👉 Rescinds the Land and Water Conservation Funds.

👉 Defunds Every Action the Biden Administration is Using to Implement 30×30!

Tip:  House Members should be home for the weekend.  You may be able to visit with them at a local event.

Get the contact Information for Your Congressional Leaders here →

2.         Call your State Representatives:

Ask them to establish a 10 percent rule in your State, preventing additional conservation easements, conservation programs, federal land acquisitions, or foreign land purchases in counties with 10 percent or more of its land already in one or a combination of these devices.

These devices erode our property rights, devalue the tax base, and prevent our local governments from properly funding our schools, hospitals, emergency services, infrastructure, and public services.

This policy will help protect your community if the Service attempts to create a conservation area in your region.

3.         Send an Email to USFWS:

Email MOHWCA@fws.gov and submit a comment to the official record with the following message:

The Missouri Headwaters Conservation Area proposed plan is a major federal action that significantly impacts the human environment” and therefore requires the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement” under the National Environmental Policy Act.  This must be completed unless the plan is immediately rescinded.

Dig Deeper

Learn more about the Natural Asset Scheme: Monetizing the Air we Breathe

Learn how Conservation Easements extinguish private property rights: Conservation Easement or Servitude

Read the USFWS public notice on the Missouri Headwaters Conservation Area.

Liberty Matters

Subscribe to our bi-weekly online analysis about the issues affecting your property rights.

Subscribe

Standing Ground

Receive our quarterly journal that provides our insights into current and emerging property rights issues.
Free with membership.

Join Now

Action Alerts!

Get our action alerts so your voice will make an impact. (If you are a Member or Subscriber you are already signed up)

Sign Up

Issue Guides

Find the ASL issue guides here to help you with the background, talking, and all the tools to educate your community. And it's free!

Learn More

Policy Briefings

Explore our in-depth briefing papers designed especially for policymakers and elected leaders with in-depth analysis of the issues.

Learn More