WASHINGTON, July 25, 2022 – Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a strategy for how the Biden-Harris administration, through the United States Department of Agriculture, will address a four million reforestation backlog acres in national forests and will plant more than one billion trees over the next decade.
With new resources made available through President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure act, combined with support from state, local, and tribal governments as well as other partners, the Forest Service aims to clear the backlog over the next 10 years and to develop infrastructure, such as nurseries. , to meet growing needs.
The Forest Service has invested more than $100 million in reforestation this year — more than three times the investment of previous years — through the Repairing Existing Public Lands by Adding Necessary Trees (REPLANT) Act made possible by the bipartisan infrastructure law. These historic investments will help mitigate the impacts of climate change, rebuild from devastating wildfires, and strengthen America’s forest lands.
“Forests are a powerful tool in the fight against climate change,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Nurturing their natural regeneration and planting in areas that need it most is key to mitigating the worst effects of climate change while making these forests more resilient to the threats they face: catastrophic wildfires, historic drought, epidemics and pest infestations.
Prior to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and REPLANT, the Forest Service could only meet about 6 percent of its reforestation needs after wildfires. The REPLANT Act directs the Forest Service to plant more than a billion trees over the next decade, removes a $30 million cap, and should now provide the agency with significantly more resources each year to do so.
According to Forest Service Chief Randy Moore, the reforestation strategy (PDF, 7 MB) will serve as a framework for understanding reforestation needs, developing shared priorities with partners, expanding reforestation and nursery capacity, and ensuring that planted trees grow to support healthy and resilient trees. forests.
“Our reforestation efforts in the National Forests are only increasing through strong partnerships with other federal agencies, tribes, state and local governments, communities and organizations,” Moore said. “We recognize that successfully increasing reforestation in national forests depends on these strong partnerships.”
Secretary Vilsack and Chief Moore said the strategy announced today is an important first step in achieving the goals set out in President Biden’s direction to scale up climate-smart reforestation and also supports the Forest Service’s 10-year strategy. to reduce wildfire risk, protect communities and improve forest health.
In addition to the Reforestation Strategy, Secretary Vilsack announced 13 new USDA Agency Climate Adaptation Plans, which outline how each USDA agency will integrate climate change into its operations and decisions to support communities, agriculture and forests at the national level.
“Our climate adaptation plans represent a model of how we take into account the risks that our changing climate poses to the groups most vulnerable to its effects – farmers, pastoralists, forest owners and rural communities. of the United States,” Secretary Vilsack said.
As nearly half the country experiences drought, record heat and increasing development where fire-prone forests meet at-risk communities, Secretary Vilsack said prioritizing climate in how the USDA makes decisions will be essential to protect people, resources and livelihoods.
In October 2021, the USDA released its Department-wide Climate Adaptation Plan (PDF, 813 KB), which identified the ways climate change will impact the mission and stakeholders of the USDA. USDA, and has developed cross-cutting actions to adapt to the current and future effects of climate change.
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