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KANW is a member of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serves the Western states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Our mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues across the Mountain West.From land and water management to growth in the expanding West to our unique culture and heritage, we'll explore the issues that define us and the challenges we face.

Report: In first three years, Biden administration setting records on conservation

President Joe Biden speaks at the League of Conservation Voters annual capital dinner in Washington, Wednesday, June 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Susan Walsh/AP
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AP
President Joe Biden speaks at the League of Conservation Voters annual capital dinner in Washington, Wednesday, June 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

In its first three years, the Biden administration has protected millions of acres and spent billions on conservation.

Last year alone, the administration created four new national monuments and took other actions that jointly protected some 12.5 million acres of land. That’s according to a report released last month by the progressive Center for American Progress.

“President Biden is within striking distance of protecting the most acreage of U.S. public lands as national monuments of any recent president in their first terms,” author Sam Zeno said.

That distinction is currently held by President Bill Clinton, according to a separate analysis.

More than 24 million acres have been conserved or are in the process of being protected since Biden took office, the report found. Additionally, his administration has funded some $18 billion in conservation projects in all 50 states, a sum the center says is a new record for a first term.

Advocates are pushing for several monument designations or expansions in the West. And Zeno said they would add enough acreage for the administration to surpass Clinton’s first term.

For example, the Great Bend of the Gilain Arizona is roughly 440,000 acres, more than enough to close the 215,000-acre gap.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Hey everyone! I’m Murphy Woodhouse, Boise State Public Radio’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter.