Our country and planet are facing an unprecedented crisis with the loss of habitats and species that make up the rich tapestry of our natural environment. While many states are doing what they can to safeguard biodiversity for future generations, we need the federal government to partner with us in creating a comprehensive, national solution. That’s why I’ve joined 365 state legislators from across the country to call for a unified governmental approach toward preserving our country’s natural environments with the creation of a National Biodiversity Strategy.

With the global UN Biodiversity Conference scheduled in October, there’s no better time than now for bold national action. While states serve as laboratories of innovation and are consistently paving the way with creative environmental policy solutions — the biodiversity crisis requires an all-hands-on-deck approach with collaboration at all levels of government.

Our letter urging the creation of a National Biodiversity Strategy to address the crisis we’re facing was released on Endangered Species Day, May 20 — especially fitting when our biodiversity is decreasing at record rates.

The facts are alarming and impossible to ignore: 1 million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction, according to scientists and researchers who produced a sweeping U.N. report. This loss of biodiversity impacts our security, economy, health and well-being; it impacts the water we drink, the air we breathe and the food we eat.

What is our country without its wealth of biodiversity? Imagine an America without eagles, bison, bees or whales. We must act now, united in mission and governance, to save our ailing ecosystems.

Washington is home to the Salish Sea and my district home to our beloved southern resident orcas, the salmon they rely on to survive, forests filled with stunning flora and fauna and mountain ranges that contain unique and important species. These habitats and animals are not only iconic and help residents deeply identify as Washingtonians, but they also contribute greatly to our local economies and quality of life.

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Growing up on Fidalgo Island, I’ve witnessed the decline of abalone and starfish, our number of orca dwindle to an estimated 75, our salmon runs drastically diminish and vast human development push our ecosystems to the brink. That’s why I’ve helped championed policies to protect our open spaces and wildlife — preserving 10,000 acres of kelp and eelgrass, investing in stormwater treatment, permanently conserving local lands, implementing guidelines to protect whales from vessel noise and so much more.

But as a state legislator, I know that species don’t recognize political boundaries. That’s why it’s imperative that we not do this work alone. States are leading the way, and this sign-on letter sends a powerful message to our federal government leaders that we are committed to protecting biodiversity and that a national strategy is crucial in achieving that goal.

As states continue to lead, we hope the Biden administration will join us by creating a National Biodiversity Strategy. The time for action is now.