(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — Orick, California — As part of a three-state tour, on Aug. 11 2021, Secretary of the Interior (DOI/Interior) Deb Haaland and White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Brenda Mallory took a journey into Northern California’s Redwood National and State Parks with Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) — California’s North Coast congressman. Haaland and Mallory addressed members of the press and met with officials from the National Park Service (NPS) and California Department of Parks and Recreation (California State Parks) as well as leadership from the Yurok Tribe, local stakeholders, conservation groups and key community members. The sojourn was meant to highlight the Biden Administration’s America the Beautiful initiative.
America the Beautiful was rolled out earlier this year, and according to DOI’s website seeks to “conserve at least 30 percent of [American] lands and waters by 2030.” The initiative was formed by way of Biden’s signing of Executive Order 14008, a.k.a. Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, and forges a working alliance between the Interior, the White House CEQ, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Commerce, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Before introducing Chair Mallory, Huffman took to the podium and expressed a few words. “Actually bringing back even more of that redwood character — that old-growth redwood character in this part of the North Coast is just a wonderful vision, and it aligns, as some others have said, so nicely with the Biden Administration’s vision as well — the 30-by-30 effort,” Huffman said.
After acknowledging the dire situation on the ground in several raging Northern California wildfires, Chair Mallory added this:
[Biden’s infrastructure deal] includes billions needed to reduce fuel-loads in our federal forests and resources to work across state lines with Tribal, state and local partners. It invests 100 million dollars for the Collaborate Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) that supports science-based ecosystem restoration of priority forest landscapes. And it includes the REPLANT Act, which removes the artificial cap that has prevented the Forest Service from promoting the replanting and reforestation of our nation’s forests. These funds will allow for hundreds of millions of dollars to be driven to this critical need, such as the uneven-aged management areas that we toured today.
After an event that brought Haaland to tears during the press conference, wherein the Yurok Tribal Government gifted the Secretary with an elaborately crafted necklace, America’s first-ever Native American presidential Cabinet member had this to say:
Earlier this year the Interior Department and our sister agencies outlined the America the Beautiful initiative, which is a vision for a collaborative, inclusive and locally-led effort toward conservation — and it’s partnerships like Redwoods Rising that form the backbone of this crucial effort. The ongoing work between Redwood National and State Parks and Save the Redwoods League to thin thousands of acres of overstocked logged overlands within the parks is essential to conserving and restoring these towering forests.
Haaland also gave a shoutout to Huffman, thanking him for his support when the two served on the House Committee on Natural Resources together. “And also, yes, my good friend, Chairman, Congressman Huffman. We were buddies on the Natural Resources Committee and I always felt so proud that he was ready and willing to speak up very vigorously for our oceans and our lands and thank you for your mentorship while I was in Congress.”
Huffman is considered to be one of the most environmentally-minded legislators in Congress and has received a 99 percent environmental scorecard from watchdog groups like the League of Conservation Voters. Huffman sat down with EnviroNews earlier this year for a full-feature on-camera interview that spanned an array of topics, including conservation, endangered species, climate change and California wildfires. The transcript to Huffman’s speech with Haaland at Redwood National and State Parks reads as follows:
Congressman Jared Huffman: Chairman James, that’s a tough act to follow, but I am so honored to be here with all of you. It’s great to see this group and I’m really proud to be able to take Secretary Haaland and Chair Mallory on a tour through this part of Redwood National and State Parks, to do it with our Tribal partners, with Save the Redwoods League. The work that we are seeing here in this Redwoods Rising program is really a continuation of a century of remarkable conservation leadership by many of these same groups — leadership that has helped us hang on to at least a sliver of this great coastal redwood habitat that used to be so expansive. And the idea of not only protecting it, but now through Redwoods Rising, actually bringing back even more of that redwood character — that old-growth redwood character in this part of the North Coast is just a wonderful vision, and it aligns, as some others have said, so nicely with the Biden Administration’s vision as well — the 30-by-30 effort, but also, our attempt to step up to this climate crisis.
And we heard, in the course of this tour, from some experts who told us that these old-growth trees — the ones we’ve been able to protect — the ones that we will bring back in the decades to come — are some of the best carbon sequestration machines on the entire planet.
So, this is wonderful work, it’s going to be great for biodiversity, it’s going to be great for carbon sequestration, we also saw how great it is for the restoration economy that is part of this great resource economy in the North Coast and in my congressional district. So, thanks for everyone who is working so diligently as part of this effort, and thanks to the Biden Administration. The fact that we are joined here — not just by my great friend Deb Haaland, our Secretary of [the] Interior, but also by the chair of the [White House] Council on Environmental Quality. The CEQ is a really, really important environmental agency in the federal government, and so I think it speaks to the Administration’s commitment and awareness, that a lot of good things are happening right here in Redwood National and State Parks. So with that, I will hand off to CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory.
VIEW SEGMENTS FROM THE ENVIRONEWS FEATURE INTERVIEW SERIES WITH REPRESENTATIVE JARED HUFFMAN