By: Wade Crowfoot, Secretary for Natural Resources
Our agency has a remarkable set of responsibilities. We help to steward 100 million acres of California’s land, hundreds of rivers, and a thousand-plus miles of coastline. We work to enable our state’s people and nature to thrive together in ways that celebrate our diverse cultures and tell our state’s history. It’s no small task.
And we’re no small agency. Over 19,000 people work across our 26 distinct departments, conservancies, and commissions. Our teams fight wildfires, protect fish and wildlife, restore nature, deliver water, run parks, manage the economic use of energy resources, and so much more. Despite this variety of functions, we share a common mission: To steward California’s natural, historical and cultural resources.
I’m inspired by this responsibility. And deeply motivated to help California thrive. Three specific priorities are top-of-mind as I tackle this work each day:
- Climate Resilience: Climate change threatens California’s natural resources as never before. Our agency is on the frontlines battling wildfires, navigating droughts and floods, and preparing for sea-level rise. Given this, we need to protect people and nature from the impacts of climate change. We need to understand how climate change impacts our state and align funding, programs and policies to confront these threats. We are working across state agencies to strengthen California’s climate resilience as part of our state’s global leadership to combat climate change.
- Biodiversity: California can also lead the world protecting our natural diversity. And in doing so, combat a mass extinction crisis in which animals and plant species are disappearing across our planet at alarming rates. Our state is recognized as one of the world’s 33 “biodiversity hotspots,” with more kinds of plants and animals than almost any other place. Given this abundance of nature and the pressure it faces amidst modern society, we need to take new actions to protect California’s one-of-a-kind community of plants and animals. This includes better understanding the status of biodiversity in California and finding innovative ways to protect plants and animals well before they are endangered.
- Access for All: While we tackle important global challenges, a critical challenge confronts us in our own communities: Too many Californians cannot access our state’s parks, beaches, and outdoor spaces, nor our state’s array of museums and cultural and historical sites. While many of us get outside into nature frequently, millions of Californians never have this opportunity. Given this, we need to expand all Californians’ access to parks, open space, nature and cultural amenities. This priority requires reshaping our funding and programs to expand opportunities to enjoy these places. Doing so advances Governor Newsom’s strong personal commitment to building a “California for All.”
I’m excited to make progress on these three priorities while advancing so many more within our agency. We have a Governor and Legislature who lead strongly with vision and passion on these issues, driven by residents across the state who love and value our natural resources. Working all together, great things are possible.