Photo of small cascading stream running through the verdant Chattahoochee National Forest.
Chattahoochee National Forest Water cascades through the dense wilderness in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia. © Jeff Gunn

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Lawmakers Propose Bill to Improve U.S. Forest Health

Would increase coordination, funding for forest restoration

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have proposed legislation to improve the health and resilience of forest landscapes across federal and non-federal land.

Introduced by Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Reps. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., and Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., the bill would formally authorize the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership between the chief of the U.S. Forest Service and chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. It would also increase annual funding for the partnership to $90 million, splitting the funding evenly between the two services.

The bill would support activities and projects across public and private land that reduce wildfire risk, protect water supplies or improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species. It would prioritize projects that reduce wildfire risk in municipal watersheds or the wildland-urban interface, are developed collaboratively or create additional forest job opportunities.

These projects help protect communities against wildfires, improve water quality and expand wildlife habitat all while improving the health and resilience of America’s forests.

Senior Policy Advisor at The Nature Conservancy

The following is a statement by Cecilia Clavet, senior policy advisor at The Nature Conservancy:

“Our forests and the communities they support are best served through collaborative, science-driven projects. This partnership ensures that America’s forest landscapes, regardless of jurisdiction, are effectively managed. These projects help protect communities against wildfires, improve water quality and expand wildlife habitat all while improving the health and resilience of America’s forests.

“By increasing funding for the partnership and prioritizing projects that will benefit communities, create jobs and are developed collaboratively, this partnership will benefit forest landscapes across the country. We are grateful to the sponsors for working together to advance this bipartisan, bicameral proposal to invest in America's forests.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.