Photo of mountainous forests in Montana.
A Forest of Opportunities Forest lands near Easton, Washington, in the Cascade Mountains. The Great Western Checkerboards Project preserves recreational access and helps conserve the ecological integrity of 165,073 acres – 257 square miles – of forests, rivers and wildlife habitat in the Cascade Mountain Range of Washington and in the Blackfoot River Valley in Montana. This transaction with Plum Creek is one of the largest land acquisition projects ever undertaken by the Conservancy. © John F. Marshall

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Lawmakers Propose Reforestation Expansion

REPLANT Act would lift cap on reforestation fund

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate today reintroduced legislation to significantly expand reforestation work on federal lands.

The Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees Act (REPLANT) Act – first introduced in the previous Congress – sets a goal for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to address its reforestation backlog within 10 years. To support this goal, the bill would eliminate the annual funding cap for the federal Reforestation Trust Fund, currently set at $30 million.

The USFS estimates that 1.3 million acres of national forest land need reforestation, including lands that experienced wildfires and other major disturbances. Despite this need, current funding only addresses about 15 percent of the reforestation backlog every year. 

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

“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.”

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.