September 13, 2021
In response to approval of the budget reconciliation bill by the United States House Agriculture Committee, American Forests President and Chief Executive Officer Jad Daley issued the following statement:
“America’s forests have long been a natural climate solution hiding in plain sight. Today the U.S. House Agriculture Committee saw and seized this opportunity like never before.
“The budget reconciliation bill approved by the Committee today has for the first time proposed an investment in America’s forests that matches the climate crisis. America’s forests can help slow climate change and protect us from its worst impacts, but only if we are willing to make the needed investment in planting and caring for forests, from our cities to majestic rural landscapes.
“The reconciliation package does this at unprecedented scale, starting with the bill’s $3 billion investment in planting equitable tree cover across our cities as protection against climate-fueled extreme heat and air pollution. This new federal funding can feed the growing movement in cities across America, from Tucson to Boston, to make tree equity part of their push to equitably protect every neighborhood from climate change. This comes as some projections show we could see as many as 100,000 deaths per year in the U.S. from extreme heat before the end of the century.
“The bill also includes an unprecedented investment of more than $20 billion to address America’s climate-fueled wildfire crisis. This includes funding for thinning and prescribed fire to reduce wildfire risk on public and private lands alike, as well as funds to stabilize and reforest burned lands. These investments will help to overcome the doubling of wildfire extent across the West in recent decades, driven by climate change.
“This bill leaves no acre or strategy behind. It includes more than $1 billion through the U.S. Forest Service Landscape Scale Restoration Program to help private landowners, including historically disadvantaged landowners, to undertake forest practices that will increase natural carbon capture and storage. And it includes more than $1 billion to permanently conserve forestland through the Forest Legacy Program and Community Forest and Open Space Program, funding both public acquisitions and conservation easements that will keep private working forests as forests.
“To assure the impact of these investments, the bill provides unprecedented funding for foundational forest-climate data and science. This includes improvements to the U.S. Forest Inventory and Analysis Program to assure that we can accurately assess the carbon stored in our forests, and understand the additional carbon gains that we can accomplish through different forest practices, including those that use production of forest products as a means to store carbon.
“Lastly, this bill creates job opportunities for thousands of young Americans to find new career opportunities in natural climate solutions through an investment of $4.5 billion in a new Civilian Climate Corps. From American Forests’ leadership in creating the original Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, we know just how powerful a new CCC can be to do important, lasting work for the country while helping people most in need to enter the workforce.
“Taken together, the investments in this bill will help save our climate and save lives, while creating green jobs. America’s forests already capture 15 percent of our carbon dioxide emissions annually, and this investment will significantly increase that natural climate solution. Trees in our cities already save more than a thousand lives each year from extreme heat, and this bill will help them save many more. And the billions of dollars invested in these activities will generate thousands more jobs, as many as 40 jobs per million dollars invested.
“American Forests will strongly advocate for this bill as it moves to the full U.S. House, and work with partners to prepare to ramp up these vitally important forestry activities, from our biggest cities to our most rural communities. We don’t have a moment to lose in the fight against climate change, and we will be ready to put this unprecedented federal investment to work.”