Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society Applaud Senators Stabenow, Braun for New Bipartisan Bill to Help Family Forests
WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry, and Natural Resources, introduced the bipartisan Rural Forests Markets Act to help small-scale, family foresters access new economic opportunities through climate solutions like carbon markets.
“Big or small, our forests are an important part of the solution to the climate crisis,” said Ranking Member Stabenow. “For too long, environmental market opportunities have been out of reach for many family foresters due to high upfront costs. Our bipartisan bill is a win-win for forest owners and the environment.”
“As President Trump noted during his State of The Union Address, sustainable forest management represents both a win for conservationists and a great climate solution” said Senator Braun. “The Rural Forests Markets Act is a low overhead climate solution that takes advantage of private investment to notch a win for small family foresters and the environment.”
As companies increasingly express interest in offsetting their environmental footprint through carbon and other environmental markets, foresters are tapping into those opportunities and being financially rewarded for sustainably managing their land. However, small-scale and family-owned forests are often left out due to high upfront costs. These small, family-owned woodlands make up 36% of U.S. forests.
The bipartisan Rural Forest Markets Act provides a federal loan guarantee to support innovative projects that help small forest owners address the warming climate and other environmental challenges by adopting sustainable land management practices. Project developers are already using private capital to band together small foresters, provide expertise, and offset the upfront financial costs producers face in participating in these innovative marketplaces. By establishing a federal loan guarantee to back these private investments, new capital and forestry jobs will flow to rural communities and landowners, all while improving the environment and storing more carbon in our forests.
The Rural Forest Markets Act:
- Establishes the Rural Forest Market Investment Program that offers guaranteed loans up to $150 million for nonprofits and companies to help small and family foresters create and sell forest credits for storing carbon or providing other environmental benefits.
- Provides a climate solution by encouraging forestland owners to adopt voluntary land management practices that draw carbon out of the air and stores it in forests.
- Creates new revenue streams for small-scale, family foresters by making it possible to generate innovative credits they can sell in established environmental marketplaces.
- Brings investment into rural communities by reducing the financial risk to private investors who can contribute the upfront financing that makes these projects possible.
The bill text may be downloaded here. A fact sheet is available here.
The bill has already gained the support of over a dozen forestry, conservation, and sportsmen groups, including the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society, Nature Conservancy, American Forest Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, National Wildlife Federation, American Wood Council, Hardwood Federation, American Forest and Paper Association, and more.
Ben Jones, President and CEO of the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society: “We have to be innovative in finding ways to promote forest conservation. Doing so benefits wildlife, families and entire communities. There is no time to waste and now is the time to act. The bipartisan Rural Forests Markets Act introduced by Senators Stabenow and Braun will help build capacity for working forests to work for wildlife, people, and a healthy environment.”
Josh Parrish, Director of the American Forest Carbon Initiative at the Nature Conservancy: “One in four rural Americans own forests and these family forests are integral to our rural economy. Carbon markets present a potential new income source for rural landowners but are largely off-limits to family forest owners due to the high cost of entering the market. Thanks to Senators Stabenow and Braun, the Rural Forests Markets Act would open carbon markets to family forest owners, giving them the opportunity to make an important contribution to mitigating climate change.”
Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation: “Across the U.S., families and private individuals own the largest portion – 36% – of our forests, making them a critical component to tackling climate change and ensuring the vitality of our rural forests and communities. Yet these owners face significant barriers when it comes to being able to care for their forests, most notably cost. Markets, such as carbon markets, can help defray the cost of forest stewardship that might otherwise not be affordable to landowners, ultimately making a meaningful impact on the climate. The American Forest Foundation applauds Senator Stabenow and Senator Braun in helping open new markets for forest owners with the introduction of the Rural Forest Markets Act.”
Becky Humphries, CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation: “The National Wild Turkey Federation appreciates Senators Stabenow’s and Braun’s support for creating markets to benefit family forest owners. During my time as Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Senator Stabenow showed unwavering support for forestry practices that keep our forests healthy. Providing a path for family forest owners to benefit from carbon markets will continue to ensure that forests remain forests.”
Robert Glowinski, American Wood Council President & CEO: “Strong forest product markets encourage forest owners to reinvest in keeping their forests healthy. This bill will open markets that enable landowners to keep their lands forested, thereby contributing to carbon emissions reductions and avoiding encroachment of development. Additionally, there is growing recognition that using wood from responsibly managed forests is part of the carbon solution. One study found that substituting wood for other materials used in buildings and bridges could prevent 14 to 31 percent of global carbon emissions. Of the major building materials, only wood products are renewable and sequester carbon for the life of the buildings in which we live, work and learn.”
About the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society
Founded in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is a leading proponent of science-based forest and wildlife management. Together with the American Woodcock Society (founded in 2014), RGS & AWS unites conservationists to improve wildlife habitat and forest health. Information on RGS & AWS, our mission, management projects and membership can be found on the web at: www.ruffedgrousesociety.org.
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