Portman, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Plant 1.2 Billion Trees on National Forests
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and U.S. Representatives Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) introduced the Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees Act, known as the REPLANT Act, to 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.
“I am pleased to join my colleagues in the Senate and House in introducing this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to address the reforestation needs within our national forests. This legislation provides a wide range of benefits, including improving our environment by sequestering carbon dioxide, reinvigorating ecosystems, and supporting wildlife that depend on healthy forests, while also creating nearly 49,000 jobs and expanding recreation opportunities on national forestland. I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting this common sense, bipartisan legislation to address the replanting needs across our nation’s forests,” said Senator Portman.
“Restoring our national forests will not only support our hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation economies, it’s also part of the solution to the climate crisis,” said Senator Stabenow. “Planting trees is a cost-effective way to draw carbon out of the air, restore our public lands, and create jobs.”
“In Idaho, we are blessed with an abundance of forests,” said Congressman Simpson. “However with forests comes wildfires, and from wildfires you lose precious natural resources such as trees. Through the Reforestation Trust Fund we can replant these trees in our national forests, without using taxpayer funds. This will benefit our environment through carbon sequestration, our economy through job creation in rural communities, and recreation all across the country. This bill has broad bipartisan and bicameral support and from a diverse group of stakeholders who are on the ground replanting our national forests.”
“After last year’s deadly and destructive wildfires, we were left with forests that were burnt and barren and an overwhelming backlog of federal reforestation projects,” said Congressman Panetta. “The REPLANT Act would mandate federal funding for the Reforestation Trust Fund so that we can decrease that backlog by significantly increasing the resources needed to plant more trees in burn scarred areas. That type of reforestation is needed to protect our communities from post wild-fire mudslides, sequester some of our carbon emissions, provide critical wildlife habitats, improve downstream drinking water quality, and restore our nation’s precious public lands for generations to come.”
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 bill only uses funds that are already being collected through tariffs on foreign wood products – it does not change the list of products, increase the tariffs, or use taxpayer funds.
The bill also directs the Forest Service to develop a 10-year plan and cost estimate to address the backlog of replanting needs on national forest land by 2031. It also prioritizes land in need of reforestation due to natural disasters that are unlikely to naturally regrow on their own.
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. Reforestation also improves soil health and protects wildlife habitats for hunting and fishing. It also strengthens our economy by creating jobs. A report completed by American Forests found that the REPLANT Act would create nearly 49,000 jobs over the next 10 years.
In addition to Sen. Portman, Sen. Stabenow, Rep. Panetta, and Rep. Simpson, the bill is cosponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Rep. Kim Schrier, Rep. Doug LaMalfa, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY), Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI).
This legislation is supported by over 50 leading organizations and companies including American Forests, Trust for Public Land, BPC Action, The Forest Stewards Guild, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, The Longleaf Alliance, Evangelical Environmental Network, Green Forests Work, Lyme Timber, REI, Salesforce, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and many others.
“Reforestation of our Nation’s national forest lands is a major mechanism to deliver increased carbon capture in U.S. For far too long we have not be able to adequately support these efforts yet our national forests protect watersheds, provide critical wildlife habitat, and provide recreation opportunities for millions. They also are key economic drivers for rural communities across our country,” said Peter Stein, Managing Director, Lyme Timber Company. “Our forests are under increasing threats of devastating wildfires that are burning hotter, over a wider area, and occurring more often. The REPLANT legislation provides critical funding at the right scale to reforest damaged national forest land that is not able to regrow on its own. This is critical legislation for rural communities and we thank the bipartisan Members for their leadership on this important issue.”
“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,” said Jad Daley, President and CEO of American Forests. “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 need. 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.”
“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,” said Taldi Harrison, REI Co-op Government Affairs.
"After a year in which the U.S. lost millions of acres of forest to wildfire, the REPLANT Act would put trees in the ground in our national forests to help fight climate change while also creating jobs. This bipartisan legislation is needed urgently, and Salesforce is proud to support it," said Joel Elliott, Director of Federal Affairs at Salesforce.
“By removing the $30 million cap on the Reforestation Trust Fund, the REPLANT Act will provide much needed financial resources to better manage our nation’s forests to enhance habitat for fish and wildlife while providing quality access opportunities for America’s sportsmen and women. This bipartisan legislation is widely supported by the sporting-conservation community, and we are excited to see it reintroduced,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane.