The REPLANT Act: Restoring our National Forests

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America’s national forests are taking a beating. Climate change is supercharging extreme wildfires, droughts and pest and disease outbreaks. These threats have grown so severe that many forests can no longer regrow on their own. Nearly 4 million acres of our national forests are ready for reforestation immediately. Unless we take swift action to replant and restore these forests, we risk their permanent loss.

The REPLANT Act would provide the United States Forest Service with funding to plant or facilitate the natural growth of more than 1.2 billion trees over the next decade. This would create nearly 49,000 jobs and capture carbon dioxide equal to the emissions from 85.3 billion gallons of gasoline. The REPLANT Act would safeguard the critical role healthy forests play in providing clean air and water, absorbing carbon and mitigating the impacts of climate change, protecting wildlife habitat and creating outdoor recreation opportunities.

Our national forests are in urgent need of reforestation

Historically, the U.S. could rely on natural regrowth to restore forests after a catastrophic event  such as a severe wildfire. Now, because climate change has made wildfires more severe, natural regrowth only occurs 40% of the time.  Foresters have to plant the remaining 60% to ensure that the right forest in the right place returns.

This work is urgent. America’s forests and forest products are a climate powerhouse, sequestering nearly 15% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. The quicker a forest has healthy trees again, the quicker it can provide water filtration, carbon storage and other benefits.

Reforestation need in national forests is gigantic

The 2020 wildfire season was catastrophic. The subsequent winter and spring mudslides that washed out roads and endangered communities are proof that wildfires have long-term consequences. Because climate change is driving hotter and faster wildfires, up to one-third of all wildfire areas simply cannot grow back on their own. That’s millions and millions of acres. And the Forest Service cannot keep up: a priority list of more than 1.3 million acres in need of reforestation is growing by hundreds of thousands of acres every year. These plans represent only about one-third of the Forest Services’ reforestation needs, which are estimated at 4 million acres.

Be a voice for the REPLANT Act

Help us make the REPLANT Act a reality by asking your Congressional leaders to support this legislation.

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The REPLANT Act works by fixing the Reforestation Trust Fund

The REPLANT Act would modernize the Reforestation Trust Fund established by Congress over 40 years ago to reforest our national forests. The Reforestation Trust Fund is funded by tariffs on imported wood products and while these revenues have grown over the past 40 years, the funding available to the Forest Service has not. When Congress established the Fund in 1980, it put restrictions on how much funding the Forest Service could use from the Fund.

The REPLANT Act would remove this artificial limit, freeing up additional money for the Forest Service to reforest and restore our national forests. REPLANT would provide essential funding to address the growing reforestation backlog — without increasing or in any way altering tariffs, and without relying on taxpayer dollars.

The REPLANT Act would bring big benefits to our economy and environment

Ramping up reforestation in our national forests will have huge payoffs for our economy and environment. If we ensure that the right trees are planted in the right place at the right time, we can maximize the benefits of forests while creating tens of thousands of jobs. The REPLANT Act’s benefits include:

  • More than 1.2 billion trees planted and regenerated on our national forests each decade.
  • Nearly 49,000 green jobs per decade, primarily in rural communities hard hit by COVID-19.
  • The trees planted each decade would capture almost 758 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent over their lifetimes — equal to the emissions from using 85.3 billion gallons of gasoline.
  • Protect drinking water sources, as 180 million Americans — 55% of the U.S. population — rely on forests for their drinking water.
  • Reforested lands will also benefit outdoor recreation opportunities, like national forests, and restore habitat for wildlife that roam our national forests, such as the grizzly bear.

Case study: The REPLANT Act could help grizzly bears’ favorite tree

Whitebark pines are a keystone species in high-elevation forests across the western U.S. These hardy pines thrive where few other trees can grow, creating crucial forest habitat on mountain slopes. Their fat-rich seeds are a favorite food of grizzly bears and Clark’s nutcrackers. They also shade snow and create snowbanks, preventing the snow from melting too quickly in the spring — crucial for regional water supplies.

Whitebarks are rapidly going extinct due to a nonnative disease, blister rust fungus, as well as intense droughts and fires made worse by climate change.

The REPLANT Act would free up critical funds to bring back whitebark pines. Scientists agree that the best way to stop the pine’s extinction is to plant whitebark seedlings screened for natural resistance to blister rust. Money from the REPLANT Act could fund efforts to grow and plant disease-resistant seedlings on a scale big enough to ensure the species’ future.

How you can help

Our national forests need your help. Contact your Congressional leaders today and tell them our national forests need the REPLANT Act.

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