More than One Million Acres will be Reforested by 2030
The Reforestation Act of 2019, introduced December 19, 2019 by Senator Tom Udall (NM), Senator Rob Portman (OH), and Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI) will bring damaged areas in our national forests back to life by providing the U.S. Forest Service with the tools and resources the agency needs to keep up with the demand for reforestation across America.
Most notably, this bill will direct the Forest Service to eliminate the “waiting list” of more than one million acres of unmet reforestation need in our national forests within 10 years, provide resources to stay on pace with demand and create thousands of new forestry jobs.
This legislation is urgent because, across America, our iconic national forests are being devastated by drought, pests, disease, and wildfire – all of which are being super-charged by a changing climate. As a result, we are now losing national forests faster than we can reforest them.
Barren and burned areas in our national forests cannot provide critical benefits for people and wildlife, such as natural carbon capture to slow climate change. Reforesting the one million acres of national forest on the waiting list has potential to naturally capture more than 200 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. This is equivalent to capturing carbon dioxide emissions from burning 220 billion pounds of coal or yearly emissions from nearly 24 million homes.
Rural communities near our national forests will particularly benefit from the legislation. Their local economies depend on these lands for high-paying jobs. And the forests provide clean water for communities nearby and far downstream.
“This bipartisan legislation solves a pressing national problem by updating the Reforestation Trust Fund so it can completely fulfill its original purpose to maintain the health of our national forests,” said Jad Daley, president and CEO of American Forests. “We look forward to working with the Senators and other co-sponsors to help enact this critical piece of legislation into law.”
The Reforestation Act of 2019 will raise the cap on the federal Reforestation Trust Fund, established by Congress in 1980, from $30 million to $60 million per year. The additional funds will come from existing tariffs imposed on imported timber and wood products that would otherwise have flowed into the Reforestation Trust Fund if not for the outdated $30 million cap. This modernization of the fund is paired with language directing the U.S. Forest Service to clear its waiting list of reforestation projects within 10 years while continuing to meet ongoing reforestation needs.