September 29, 2023

Manchin, Bipartisan Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Promote Active Forest and Rangeland Management to Restore Ecosystems and Sequester Carbon

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, John Barrasso (R-WY), Ranking Member of the Committee, Roger Marshall (R-KS), and Angus King (I-ME) introduced S.2991America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration (ARCs) Act of 2023, 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.

“The devastating wildfires we’ve seen over the past year are proof once again that the Federal government must take a proactive role in improving the resiliency of our forests and that can also help to reduce carbon emissions. This legislation will help us to get more work carried out on the ground including revegetation, wildfire prevention, and hazardous fuels reduction projects, as well as expand the use of wood products, and I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan bill to help restore ecosystems and boost carbon storage and sequestration in our forests,” said Chairman Manchin.

“From the devastating wildfires in Hawaii to the dense smoke that covered the east coast, people across the country are seeing what folks in Wyoming have long known – out of control wildfires are dangerous and destructive,” said Senator Barrasso. “Through critical initiatives such as revegetation, tree thinning in overcrowded forests, and the elimination of invasive fire-prone grasses, America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration Act will help improve the health of forests and rangelands, and make them more resilient to catastrophic wildfires. Simply put, the ARCs Act will help ensure the responsible management of our forests and rangelands in Wyoming and across the country. I am thankful for Chairman Manchin’s partnership on this important legislation.”

“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 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.”

“America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration Act 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 provide innovative, carbon-based, funding streams to reduce wildlife risk while ensuring that degraded forest landscapes are restored. 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. 

“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.

“The American Wood Council applauds Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso’s introduction of the America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration (ARCs) Act of 2023 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.

“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.

"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). 

“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.

“Our nation’s forests and rangelands, face many serious challenges to their health and viability, including catastrophic wildfire and insect and disease outbreaks,” said Kacey KC, President of the National Association of State Foresters (NASF). “The ARCS Act will strengthen our forests and rangelands through thoughtful and coordinated afforestation and reforestation efforts, expanded opportunities for wildfire mitigation projects, and responsible timber salvage. NASF is encouraged by the introduction of the bipartisan ARCS Act and extends its thanks to Senators Barrasso (R-WY) and Manchin (D-WV) for their continued leadership on forestry legislation.”

"Senator Barrasso and Senator Manchin’s America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration Act of 2023 brings a rational, reasonable and common-sense approach to managing C02,” said Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon. “This is a refreshing change to the continual feed of misguided and divisive anti-fossil fuel bills being introduced by this Congress. Fossil fuels are an abundant, reasonably priced and reliable source of energy. Coupled with sources such as wind, solar and nuclear, these energy sources can provide grid stability and low-cost energy for consumers. This bill provides recognition that our forests and open lands are important to the capture and sequestration of C02.  Proper management of these resources – including wildfire management, invasive grass control and use of forest products – all could be a great benefit to the people of Wyoming. This bill unlocks a portfolio of important tools to proactively manage forests and enhance their natural ability to store carbon. I heartily support this bill.” 

“Senator Barrasso’s ARCs Act recognizes that active and timely coordinated management is the essential key to restoring America’s forest and rangelands to meet their incredible potential to store carbon while meeting resource needs for wildlife and livestock forage and wood products. Key provisions of the Act that address invasive grasses while providing support for locally driven revegetation will directly benefit ranchers in Wyoming and across the West,” said Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.

“I applaud … the America's Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration Act of 2023 to mitigate the impact invasive annual grasses such as medusahead and cheatgrass are having on our western landscapes,” said Lindsey Woodward, the Weed and Pest Coordinator of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture. “These invasive species are degrading the health of the western ecological system critical to agriculture and wildlife while increasing the frequency and intensity of wildfires.  The language proposed in ARCs recognizes the need for planning across jurisdictional boundaries while emphasizing the need for quantifiable actions to directly mitigate the threat.”

“The ARCs Act will help provide the necessary tools Wyoming's forests need to recover from catastrophic wildfires and insect and disease outbreaks. This bipartisan legislation focuses on expanding critical revegetation efforts while ensuring timely management can be achieved after a large forest disturbance…," said Kelly Norris, Wyoming State Forester.

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

Bill text is available here.