REGIONAL— With President Biden’s signing of the Inflation Reduction Act on Tuesday, the media has focused much of its attention on the big ticket items in the bill. Those include …
REGIONAL— With President Biden’s signing of the Inflation Reduction Act on Tuesday, the media has focused much of its attention on the big ticket items in the bill. Those include investments in green energy and energy efficiency, possible savings for Americans on prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices, as well as tax changes that will ensure that big corporations can no longer book big profits without paying taxes.
But for property owners in the North Country, the new law will also bring new investments in forests as a means of both sequestering carbon and providing cooling shade. The measure includes $1.5 billion for urban and community tree planting and protection. According to the organization American Forests, the funding should allow for the planting and care of 23 million trees in communities across the country. “That’s a game-changing life for communities across America,” stated Jad Daley, president and CEO of American Forests.
Parts of cities with limited tree cover are known to be as much as 20 degrees hotter than those areas with abundant tree cover, so the tree-planting effort will help cool urban areas that currently lack trees. Many of the neighborhoods that lack trees are low-income, so the investment in urban forestry will help those vulnerable communities most of all.
The new trees will not only provide cooling shade, they’ll gather and store carbon in their tissues as they grow. A number of studies have shown that trees and forests, which act as carbon sinks, can play a critical role in helping to address climate change.
For rural forestland owners, the bill provides $700 million for the Forest Legacy Program, designed to permanently protect private forest lands through the purchase of voluntary conservation easements or direct acquisition by local governments. This will help to encourage the retention of private forest lands that might otherwise be lost to development or conversion to other uses.
The new law also provides $450 million to the U.S. Forest Service to develop incentives for private landowners who agree to adopt voluntary forestry practices that aid in the fight against climate change.
At the same time, the new measure will provide over $2 billion in funding for thinning and prescribed burning on public lands, to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. Those funds can also be used for restoration efforts on public lands that have burned.
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