Manchin, Barrasso, King, Marshall Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Help Restore Ecosystems, Sequester Carbon, And Reduce Emissions Through Active Forest And Rangeland Management

Senators’ bill comes amid devastating wildfires that have caused western forests and rangelands to become major carbon emitters

September 24, 2021

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and John Barrasso (R-WY), Ranking Member of the Committee, Angus King (I-ME), and Roger Marshall (R-KS) introduced S.2836, America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration (ARCs) Act of 2021, a bipartisan piece of legislation that aims to restore ecosystems and boost carbon storage and sequestration through tree planting, fire risk reduction projects, and expanded use of forest products and new wood technologies.

“We can prevent carbon emissions and improve the resiliency of our forests and rangelands through proactive measures such as revegetation, wildfire prevention, hazardous fuels reduction projects and the expanded use of wood products. It is clear the federal government should be leading the charge in these efforts, which is why I’m proud to join Senators Barrasso, King, and Marshall in introducing the bipartisan America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration Act. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure this much-needed legislation becomes law,” said Chairman Manchin.

“Wyoming has incredible forests and rangelands that are critical to our economy and attract visitors from around the world. America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration Act will help protect these natural wonders and rural economies,” said Ranking Member Barrasso. “The bipartisan legislation will help eliminate invasive grasses that fuel destructive wildfires and prevent livestock from grazing.  The bill will support the economy by expediting the logging of damaged trees and enhancing revegetation projects. The ARCs Act will also reduce emissions and the threat of future fires by allowing for additional wildfire mitigation such as tree thinning in fire-prone forests. I am thankful to Chairman Manchin for his partnership on this important legislation. It’s a critical first step towards improving the health of our forests and rangelands.”

“The health of America’s forests are critical to the long-term economic and environmental health of our nation,” said Senator King. “As the most forested state in the country, Maine understands that working forests support jobs and communities, help to prevent forest fires, and mitigate the effect of climate change. In the face of shifting market demands and rising risks of forest fires, we need to encourage innovative solutions that support the long-term health of our forests and our timber industry. This legislation is the approach we need at the moment – a commonsense, bipartisan bill that protects our forests today and lays the foundation plants the seeds of future success by incentivizing forward-thinking technologies like cross-laminated timber.”

“Following years of destructive wildfires ravaging the west, this bipartisan legislation focuses on preventing and mitigating that destruction through more flexible forest management strategies,” said Senator Marshall. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and we must continue to find innovative solutions that will help farmers and foresters create a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment.”

The ARCs Act of 2021 is supported by a broad coalition of organizations, including the National Association of State Foresters, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, National Alliance of Forest Owners, American Forest Resource Council, American Forest Foundation, Federal Forest Resource Coalition, The Nature Conservancy, Society of American Foresters, American Wood Council, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Property and Environment Research Center, and Wyoming Stock Growers Association.

America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration Act of 2021 is an important part of improving the health and climate resilience of our nation’s forests and rangeland.  Through science-based and coordinated revegetation efforts, the legislation helps to ensure degraded forest landscapes are restored and also provides innovative, carbon-based, funding streams to reduce wildlife risk. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership commends Senators Manchin and Barrasso for their thoughtful partnership to improve America’s forests and fish and wildlife habitat,” said Tiffany Turner, Director of Climate Solutions, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

“If we are going to tackle climate change, caring for our forests must be part of the strategy. We commend Senators Manchin, Barrasso, King and Marshall for coming together to advance bipartisan legislation that will amplify forests’ climate role. The bill’s focus on revegetation, reforestation and research of climate-smart forestry actions will improve the health of our forests and create invaluable job opportunities across rural and urban landscapes. We’re especially pleased about the bill’s focus on the revegetation and reforestation of former mine lands. This effort will not only be critical to sequestering more carbon, but it will also support local economies in West Virginia and other states with their own mining legacies. This is a win-win for nature and people. We look forward to working with the sponsors to improve and advance this legislation,” said Thomas Minney, Executive Director for The Nature Conservancy’s West Virginia chapter.

“Decades of non-management, overstocking and a warming climate are fueling catastrophic wildfires on our federal forests.  These severe fires are devastating communities, natural landscapes, watersheds, and wildlife habitat, emitting massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and converting our forests into carbon-emitting brush fields choked with dead trees.  We applaud the leadership by Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso to undertake an unprecedented reforestation effort on federal lands, recognize the carbon benefits of actively managed federal forests and climate-friendly wood products, and promote new and existing markets for wood products made by American workers.  We look forward to working with Senators Manchin, Barrasso and others in Congress to provide federal land management agencies the funding, policy tools, and oversight needed to reverse the underlying crisis of overstocked, unhealthy forests through preventative, science-based active management,” said Travis Joseph, President and CEO, American Forest Resource Council.

“America’s trees and forests are a strategic national resource with vast potential as solutions for climate change, public health, and economic challenges,” said Christopher Martin, president of the National Association of State Foresters (NASF). “Active management maximizes the carbon benefits of forests and is vital to keeping forested landscapes working for us as carbon sinks, instead of carbon emitters. NASF is encouraged by the introduction of the bipartisan America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration Act and extends its thanks to Senators Manchin and Barrasso for their continued leadership on forestry legislation.”

“We applaud Senators Manchin and Barrasso for introducing the America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration Act, a bipartisan bill to support forest health and resilience and promote natural, forest-based solutions in the face of a changing climate. We are pleased to see Congress addressing critical forest carbon data needs through investments in the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (FIA).  The bill also supports working forests and forest owners by advancing markets for sustainable wood products like mass timber.  Guided by quality data and encouraged by access to healthy markets for forest products, private working forests have no equal in their ability to sequester and store carbon at scale. With the right support, like we see in this bill, there is even greater potential to optimize carbon sequestration and storage,” said Dave Tenny, President and CEO, National Alliance of Forest Owners.

“Our forests – and the professionals who study, manage, and care for them – are some of our nation's most valuable and versatile resources. The Society of American Foresters applauds Senator Manchin and Senator Barrasso for developing a bipartisan bill that embraces forest management and forest products as powerful climate solutions and catalysts for positive change in urban and rural communities across the country. Through supporting and promoting climate-informed, professional management, the ARCs Act invests in the long-term health and resilience of our forests while empowering and inspiring forestry professionals for years to come,” said Terry Baker, CEO, Society of American Foresters.

"At a time when record fires are harming communities around the country, PERC's research in Fix America's Forests has found that forest managers need the flexibility to implement long-term and sustainable forest restoration and wildfire risk reduction, rather than being confined to short-term appropriations. The ARCs Act proposes an important step in this direction by directing revenues to a separate fund for federal forest restoration that the Forest Service and its partners can rely on for long-term planning and project implementation,” said Jonathan Wood, Vice President of Law and Policy, Property and Environment Research Center (PERC).

“The American Forest Foundation applauds Senators Manchin and Barrasso for their efforts in putting forth the bipartisan America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration Act, a bill that would help to tackle the wildfire challenges and our broader climate crisis through the use of forests, including family-owned forests. Family and public forests are a patchwork of ownership across the U.S., especially in drought-stricken West. In order to address our outsized challenges, we must take an all-lands approach in order to get to scale. We look forward to working with Sens. Manchin and Barrasso on this legislation and our own Rural Forests Market Act to empower our forests as natural climate solutions,” said Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation.

“The American Wood Council applauds Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso’s introduction of the America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration (ARCs) Act of 2021 and their bipartisan effort to maximize the carbon sequestration potential of America’s forests and forest products. When taken together, sustainably managed forests and the wood products harvested from them can be a remarkable carbon sink and a renewable resource,” said Jackson Morrill, President and CEO, American Wood Council.

“This bill provides a good foundation for better management of our unhealthy, fire prone National Forest System. The last decade has produced historic, disastrous fire seasons that have emitted millions of tons of carbon and created a massive need for forest recovery and restoration. This bill gives the Forest Service clear direction and new tools to begin addressing the damage done in recent years. We applaud the bipartisan effort of Chairman Joe Manchin and Ranking Member John Barrasso, and look forward to working with them on this bill. We also firmly believe that the Forest Service must be given clearer direction to expedite needed management on the portions of the National Forest System that are not set aside as wilderness or roadless areas. We hope this bill is a first step on a journey to a healthier National Forest that meets the needs of the American people,” said Bill Imbergamo, Executive Director, Federal Forest Resource Coalition.

“The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has long championed healthy, resilient forests as important habitat for elk and other wildlife. America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration Act would provide new, innovative forest and reclaimed mine lands management tools. We look forward to working with Senators Manchin and Barrasso to provide our land managers additional discretion to actively manage forests and to pass this important legislation,” said Kyle Weaver, President and CEO, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

A one-page summary of the bill is available here.

A section-by-section summary of the bill available here.

Bill text is available here.