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Huffman Introduces Legislation to Renew and Expand Federal Forest Restoration Programs

December 05, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) introduced H.R. 5311, the Forestry Renewal Act, new legislation that will create jobs, contribute to natural climate solutions, and improve the health of urban and rural forests across the country. The new legislation will encourage planning for urban forests by permanently reactivating the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council disbanded by the Trump administration, and will support the health of forest and grasslands in the National Forest System by increasing the amount of money available for U.S. Forest Service reforestation activities.

“Healthy trees are important to communities across America, from my constituents who live among the majestic Redwoods to those in big cities where tree canopies improve the urban environment by providing shade, cooling buildings, and reducing stormwater runoff,” said Rep. Huffman. “Trees naturally filter pollutants from the air, provide habitat for birds and wildlife, and protect the watersheds that provide our drinking water. They are also a powerful tool in the climate change toolkit, with the potential to sequester countless tons of carbon. If we want to create a cleaner future, the investments we make today in reforestation and developing forests in urban communities will pay dividends for generations to come.”

The Forestry Advisory Council, which supports urban and community forestry projects,  became inactive last year after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue failed to sign the Council’s charter. The Forestry Renewal Act requires the Trump administration to restore the Council to its previous advisory role, and blocks any future administration interference in its important service to the Forest Service through long-term planning for urban forests.

H.R. 5311 will also allow the Forest Service to greatly increase tree-planting and forest ecosystem restoration projects across the country. Under current law, the amount of money that can be deposited into the Reforestation Trust Fund is capped at $30 million per year collected from certain tariffs. The new legislation will eliminate that cap, estimated to increase funding available for reforestation by up to $50 million/year.

“The National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council plays a central role that is vital in establishing a national vision for urban and community forestry for the public and private sectors,” said Walt Warriner, Certified Urban Forester and former member of the Council. “Through its Ten-Year Action Plan and Federal grant program it serves a catalyst for job creation, stimulates regional wood economies and enhances community resilience after natural disasters. With over 130 million acres of America’s forests located in cities and towns, urban and community forests are more important than ever as they are a core component for offsetting climate change.”

“Forests are the best nature-based solution to climate change. The Forestry Renewal Act would help bring that solution to life by providing forest managers with the tools they need to ensure our nation’s forests are healthy and climate resilient. It’s that type of scenario that will allow us to double the amount of U.S. carbon captured by forests to 30 percent, the level that is needed to reach the goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement,” said President and CEO of American Forests Jad Daley. 

“The National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council is the inspiration and voice for trees in both urban and rural areas where our Nation lives, works and plays. Harnessing differing points of view,  being aware of what is happening in many tree types such as fruits, nuts and shade is critical to our Nation for its beauty and healthy food supply,” said Lisa Ortega, ISA Master Arborist and Consulting Arborist and former Council Chair.

The bill is endorsed by American Forests, National Wildlife Federation, Conservation Fund, Sierra Club.

Full text of the legislation can be found here. For more information on the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council, visit here.

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