11 • 01 • 2021

NOAA Opens Public Comment Period on America the Beautiful 30x30 Initiative

By Pete Stauffer

NOAA has opened a 60-day public comment period on the America the Beautiful initiative, seeking public input on how NOAA should conserve and restore America’s ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes.

Earlier this year, the Biden-Harris administration launched the America the Beautiful campaign calling for a decade-long effort to conserve public, private, and tribal lands and waters through locally led efforts. The initiative is part of a global 30x30 call to action to tackle the climate change emergency and alarming declines in biodiversity across the planet. With science underpinning the need for bold action, the goal is to conserve 30% of the world’s land, water and ocean by 2030.

The NOAA comment opportunity seeks public input on the agency's role in managing the U.S. ocean and Great Lakes as part of the America the Beautiful Initiative.  Specifically, NOAA is seeking input on how it should, using existing legal authorities, conserve and restore the ocean, coasts and Great Lakes, guided by the eight core principles in the report. NOAA is also hosting public listening sessions on November 8th and 16th, which are another great way to provide input. NOAA's leadership on America the Beautiful complements leadership from California, Hawaii and other states that are also moving forward with state 30x30 conservation planning.

NOAA’s continuing efforts include expanding the National Marine Sanctuary system, with a focus on designating new sanctuaries that align with the Administration’s goals to address nature loss, climate change, and equity, including through enhanced engagement with underserved and tribal communities. NOAA will also soon announce selected projects for the National Coastal Resilience Fund that will advance restoration or enhancement of natural features, while also improving habitat for fish and wildlife.

The Surfrider Foundation and the coastal recreation community have engaged with NOAA for decades on ocean protection issues. Our advocacy has supported the designation of both National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments across the United States along with state and community MPAs. We also play an active role in many MPA stakeholder bodies, including Sanctuary Advisory Councils, as a representative of the coastal recreation community.

Surfrider is committed to supporting the success of the America the Beautiful initiative through outreach, advocacy and stewardship efforts. We urge you to participate in the ongoing public comment opportunity which is open until December 28th.

Below are sample talking points. Please personalize for your state/ region

  • NOAA should implement the America the Beautiful initiative to protect our ocean, coasts and Great Lakes.
  • Surfrider endorses the eight core principles to ensure an equitable, community-based approach
  • Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a proven tool for protecting and restoring the ocean
  • Marine protected areas also benefit communities and businesses that depend on a healthy coast and ocean 
  • Conservation efforts must protect and expand public access opportunities to the coast and ocean for all people (more access talking points)
  • NOAA should enhance coastal resilience through nature-based solutions and living shoreline projects
  • Management plans for existing National Marine Sanctuaries should be updated to strengthen protections and enhance public access
  • NOAA should designate new National Marine Sanctuaries including: the Chumash Heritage, The Hudson Canyon and others
  • NOAA should support State MPA Programs and Tribal conservation effort through collaborating as a federal partner