In 1980, the US established the Reforestation Trust Fund “to plant trees on national forests in the aftermath of natural disturbances such as wildfires.” The fund is financed using tariffs collected on wood products, and its spending is capped at $30M each year. The Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees (REPLANT) Act of 2021, currently under consideration, would raise the cap significantly, to $123M per year, on average, though in real terms it’s not as big of an increase as it appears. (Taking inflation into account, $30M in 1980s dollars would be roughly equivalent to $96M in today’s dollars.)
According to the bill’s bipartisan sponsors, “The bill only uses funds that are already being collected – it does not change the list of products, increase the tariffs, or use taxpayer funds.” It’s unclear where the annual tariffs in excess of $30M have been directed over the years.
Ultimately the hope is REPLANT will result in the planting of 1.2 billion trees over the next decade to re-forest nearly 2M acres of forestland, and is projected to create 49,000 jobs in that time. The bi-partisan bill is supported by well-known groups including the National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, and Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. Corporate supporters of the bill include REI and Salesforce.
Individuals can voice support for the bill using this easy online form on the REI website.