Bipartisan bill supports priority forest landscape-scale restoration projects.
WASHINGTON—This week, Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Environmental and Economic Benefits Restoration Act of 2016 (S. 3310).
This bipartisan legislation would prioritize funding for the highest priority projects, resulting in measurable improvements to non-federal private forests and adjoining National Forest System lands.
“Forest threats including catastrophic wildfire, invasive insects and disease know no boundaries. That is why landscape-scale, cross-boundary forest management projects are so critical to protect the nation’s forests and communities. State Foresters are grateful for the leadership of Senators Daines and Klobuchar and we encourage members of Congress to work together to pass this legislation this year,” said Jay Farrell, Executive Director for the National Association of State Foresters.
The Landscape Scale Restoration (LSR) Program was created to enhance the on-the-ground outcomes delivered through the USDA Forest Service’s Cooperative Forestry Programs. The Environmental and Economic Benefits Restoration Act of 2016 codifies the LSR program and adds a requirement that the state Forest Action Plans be the basis for project selection.
In addition, the bill focuses a portion of the USDA Forest Service Hazardous Fuels program on cross-boundary work which includes thinning trees and using prescribed burns around communities in order to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. Together with the Forest Service, State Foresters would select those projects and be able to spend a portion of that funding on fuels reduction on adjoining state, county and private lands.
“Individuals and families own more forests across the country than any other group,” said Rita Hite, Executive Vice President of Woodlands, Policy and the American Tree Farm System at the American Forest Foundation (AFF). “Including them in restoration and conservation of our forests is key if we are to truly have a landscape level impact and protect the clean water and wildlife habitat our forests provide. AFF has seen great success working with landowners and partners, including state forestry agencies, on cost-boundary efforts and we commend Senators Klobuchar and Daines for introducing legislation to expand this work.”
The Environmental and Economic Benefits Restoration Act of 2016 would:
- Authorize a new USDA Forest Service program which codifies an existing approach the agency is pursuing to support landscape restoration;
- Direct resources toward the highest priority forestry projects as identified each state forestry agency’s Forest Action Plan;
- Direct the USDA Forest Service and the Department of the Interior to spend a portion of the hazardous fuels reduction program resources on projects that include work across public and private lands;
- Bolster the use of the Farm Bill’s Good Neighbor Authority; and much more.
Amanda Cooke: National Association of State Foresters Director of Communications at (202) 624-5417 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Greener: American Forest Foundation Director of Communications and Policy at (202) 751-2442 or email@example.com
The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) represents State and Territorial Forester interests by influencing forest policy and leading efforts to optimize social, economic, and environmental benefits of trees and forests. Learn more at www.stateforesters.org and www.forestactionplans.org.
The American Forest Foundation (AFF), a forest conservation organization, works on the ground with families, teachers and elected officials to promote stewardship and protect our nation’s forest heritage. A commitment to the next generation unites our nationwide network of forest owners and teachers working to keep our forests healthy and our children well-prepared for the future they will inherit. Learn more at www.forestfoundation.org.