Widespread Support for Portman’s Bipartisan, Bicameral REPLANT Act to Expand Funding to Restore America’s National Forests

April 8, 2021 | Portman Difference

Forest and conservation advocates from around the country have voiced their support for Senator Portman’s bipartisan Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees (REPLANT) Act, which will help the U.S. Forest Service plant 1.2 billion trees on national forests and create nearly 49,000 jobs over the next 10 years.

From destructive wildfires to invasive pests and disease, national forests across the country are in desperate need of reforestation efforts. The demand for reforestation has vastly outpaced the current funding available, which has contributed to a backlog of nearly 2 million acres in need of restoration. Each year, only 15 percent of the national forest tree planting backlog is addressed.

The REPLANT Act quadruples investments to support reforestation projects on national forests. The bill removes the current funding cap of $30 million per year in the Reforestation Trust Fund, making an average of $123 million annually available for reforestation in national forests. The REPLANT Act will help reforest 4.1 million acres by planting 1.2 billion trees over the next 10 years. Planting these trees will help sequester 75 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in a decade, which is equivalent to avoiding the use of 8.5 billion gallons of gasoline.

Supporters of the bipartisan, bicameral REPLANT Act had the following to say:

“The National Association of State Foresters is proud to support the bipartisan REPLANT Act for its pragmatic approach to mitigating the effects of climate change through reforestation. Young forests are not only proven to sequester carbon at higher rates than older forests, they provide millions of Americans with clean drinking water and thousands of wildlife species with critical habitat. This bill would ensure more seedlings take root in our national forests where an urgent need for tree planting has already been identified.” – Joe Fox, NASF President and Arkansas State Forester

“Americans need their National Forests more than ever. Our forests create jobs, provide clean water, and combat climate change by sequestering millions of tons of carbon. Yet, millions of acres are being ravaged by climate-change induced wildfires, droughts, pests. With an antiquated cap on the Reforestation Trust Fund, the Forest Service is falling behind in restoring our forests and only addressing a fraction of our tree planting needs. The REPLANT Act will turn that around and give the forest service access to the funds necessary to catch up and keep up with growing reforestation needs. Over the next decade, this bill will allow the Forest Service to plant 1.2 billion trees, reforest more than 4 million acres, and create nearly 49,000 green jobs.” – Jad Daley, President and CEO of American Forests

“We need the REPLANT act because we need to plant more trees. We need to bring back areas severely burned by wildfire, increase wildlife habitat, protect our clean water, and create more jobs in rural communities. This is an issue we can all agree on regardless of political party.” – Dr. Zander Evans, Executive Director, Forest Stewards Guild

“REI Co-op proudly supports the REPLANT Act to increase reforestation efforts on our public lands. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will not only increase carbon sequestration in our national forests, but will enhance recreation opportunities, create jobs and revitalize local economies across the country. We look forward to supporting the passage of this critical legislation that harnesses the power of our national forests." Taldi Harrison, REI Co-op Government Affairs

“Forests are essential not only to the survival of the birds that we love, but also to the fight against climate change. Forests help store carbon and keep it out of the atmosphere, protect water supplies, and provide important habitat for wildlife. This bill will go a long way in restoring our forests and to helping create a cleaner future for both people and wildlife.” – Sarah Greenberger, Senior Vice President of Conservation Policy at the National Audubon Society

“Climate-informed forest management and reforestation is an essential part of addressing the climate crisis and wildlife crisis. The REPLANT Act will help ensure the U.S. Forest Service has the resources it needs to restore our national forests, support natural carbon sequestration, and ensure these critical landscapes endure for future generations.” – Mike Leahy, Director of Wildlife, Hunting and Fishing Policy for the National Wildlife Federation

“Scripture calls us to be good stewards of God’s creation. In recent years, however, our national forests have been devastated by extreme wildfire, longer and more frequent drought, and pests and disease at a pace that far outstrips the Forest Services’ ability to restore these precious natural resources. With the threat of climate change, damage to our forests only stands to get worse. The REPLANT Act represents good environmental stewardship by unlocking critical funds necessary to catch up and keep up with growing reforestation needs. It also provides critical investment in communities across America that will create jobs in a time of great economic hardship, keep our drinking water clean and pure, and restore unique and irreplaceable places in God’s creation. In short, the REPLANT Act is a win for God’s creation, the economy, and the well-being of everyday Americans.” – Rev. Mitchell Hescox, President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network

“We need immediate, bipartisan action to protect people and help slow climate change. Smart policy that embraces nature as a climate solution is integral to any comprehensive approach to improve climate mitigation and resilience. This bill shows us how to use trees to do just that, removing carbon from the air, reforesting fire-scarred landscapes, and creating jobs. I am encouraged to see this bipartisan legislation introduced in both the House and Senate and look forward to advancing this critical policy.” Bill Lee, Senior Vice President of Policy, Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trust for Public Land

“Reforestation is one of the most scalable and effective strategies for tackling many of the threats facing our natural world. The current spending cap puts an artificial limit on how much reforestation can improve air and water quality, protect habitats, expand outdoor recreation access and combat climate change. Lifting the cap and making reforestation a priority for federal contracting will unlock this potential and help us improve the health, management and sustainability of our forests. The importance of forests to our health, our economy and our future cannot be overstated. We are grateful to the bill’s lead sponsors, Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Reps. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., and Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, for demonstrating bipartisan support for investing in forests and all the benefits they provide. We urge Congress to swiftly pass the REPLANT Act.” – Cecilia Clavet, Senior Policy Advisor at The Nature Conservancy

“More trees in our national forests means better recreation opportunities for the millions of Americans who enjoy our nation’s outdoors. The bipartisan REPLANT bill is exactly the type of legislation the outdoor recreation industry can get behind because it will keep our forests strong and encourage more people to get outside and in turn bolster local economies. It is a win, win, win bill we are proud to support and applaud U.S. Senators Stabenow (D-MI) and Portman (R-OH) as well as U.S. Representatives Panetta (D-CA) and Simpson (R-ID) for sponsoring it.”Jessica Turner, Executive Director of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable

“BPC Action commends Sens. Stabenow (D-MI) and Portman (R-OH) and Reps. Panetta (D-CA) and Simpson (R-ID) for introducing the Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees (REPLANT) Act of 2021. The bill advances U.S. reforestation efforts that will help maintain and restore our national forests, generate economic opportunities in rural areas, and provide environmental and climate benefits through enhanced carbon sequestration, which are priorities of BPC’s Farm and Forest Carbon Solutions Initiative. The REPLANT Act requires the U.S. Forest Service to reduce a backlog of nearly 2 million acres in need of reforestation within the next decade, with priority given to forests degraded or destroyed by wildfires and other unplanned events. Notably, the legislation removes the cap (currently set at $30 million) on duties that USFS can take from specified wood products, meaning all duties will go to the Reforestation Trust Fund. This will modernize the fund and provide financial support for USFS to meet the reforestation backlog while maintaining current reforestation needs. We are glad to see congressional support for reforestation activities that will bolster rural communities and mitigate climate impacts. BPC Action looks forward to working with Congress to pass this bill.” — Michele Stockwell, Executive Director, BPC Action