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Simpson Joins Bipartisan, Bicameral Group of Lawmakers Introduce Major Legislation to Expand Funding to Restore America’s National Forests

Simpson Joins Bipartisan, Bicameral Group of Lawmakers Introduce Major Legislation to Expand Funding to Restore America’s National Forests

The REPLANT Act increases funding and helps the U.S. Forest Service prioritize and reduce the backlog of 1.3 million forestland acres in need of replanting within ten years

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and U.S. Representatives Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-Wash.), and Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), introduced the Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees Act or the REPLANT Act, legislation to expand funding for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to carry out reforestation projects in U.S. forestland damaged by events such as wildfires, insects and disease, while creating more than 48,000 jobs over the next ten years.

To address the Forest Service’s reforestation backlog, the bill removes the current $30 million annual funding cap for the Reforestation Trust Fund, the primary source of funding for USFS’s replanting needs, making an average of $123 million annually available for reforestation in National Forests. In addition, the REPLANT Act will direct USFS to quantify the backlog of replanting needs, reduce delays by expanding stewardship contracting, and encourage state and Tribal partnerships. Among other associated activities, reforestation includes planting tree seedlings on forests that are unlikely to regenerate on their own in order to reestablish native plants and ensure the health of ecosystems and wildlife that depend on forests. Replanting forests is an effective way to create jobs in rural America, support natural ecosystems and improve natural carbon sequestration. Estimates show that the REPLANT Act would help plant 410,000 acres, or 123 million trees annually, for a total of 4.1 million acres (1.23 billion trees) over the next ten years.

“In Idaho, we are blessed with an abundance of forests,” said 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. I am pleased this bill has the support of Secretary Perdue and a bipartisan, bicameral, and diverse group of stakeholders who are on the ground replanting our national forests.”

USFS has estimated that in FY 2018, 80 percent of its reforestation needs were attributed to wildfires. With only approximately 15 percent of the national forest tree planting backlog addressed each year at current funding levels, this legislation will help provide much-needed resources to the Forest Service to address reforestation needs. Funding for the Reforestation Trust Fund comes from tariffs levied on wood products entering the United States. In addition to restoring forest health across the country, the legislation will support rural employment and enhance recreational opportunities within national forests.

The REPLANT Act has received widespread support from a variety of groups including American Forests, The National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Evangelical Environmental Network, The Audubon Society, The Forest Stewards Guild, Green Forests Work, the Trust for Public Land, the Bipartisan Policy Center, Longleaf Alliance, and the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.

The full text of the bill can be found HERE. A one-page summary of the bill can be found HERE, and a background summary HERE. Statements of support from organizations can be found HERE