On Thursday, the U.S. Senate announced an historic agreement designed to reduce inflation, combat the climate crisis, and provide needed funding for essential government programs. Included in the package are significant investments in federal land management and environmental analysis and review, which is vital to ensuring that the best available science informs land management decisions.
“While it has been a rocky and uncertain road, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 represents another important investment in science-based federal land management,” said Susan Jane Brown, Wildlands and Wildlife Program director at the Western Environmental Law Center. “We look forward to working with our agency partners to ensure that Congress’ intentions are met and that climate-smart forestry practices are used to combat the climate crisis and reduce wildfire risk to homes, communities, and treasured landscapes.”
The legislation, titled The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, includes the following land management provisions applicable to the U.S. Forest Service:
- $1.8B: Collaboratively-developed hazardous fuels reduction on national forestlands located in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) (Sec. 23001)
- $200M: Watershed protection and restoration (Sec. 23001)
- $100M: National Environmental Policy Act environmental review (Sec. 23001)
- $50M: Implementation of Executive Order 14072, Strengthening the Nation’s Forests, Communities, and Local Economies (mature and old growth forest protection) (Sec. 23001)
- $450M: Private landowner climate-smart forestry conservation (Sec. 23002)
- $100M: Competitive wood innovation grant program (Sec. 23002)
- $700M: Forest Legacy Program (conservation land acquisition) (Sec. 23003)
- $1.5B: Urban and Community Forestry (Sec. 23003)
In addition, the legislation includes the following provisions to facilitate environmental review of federal decisions:
- $150M: Actions undertaken by Department of Interior agencies (Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, etc.) (Sec. 50303)
- $32M: To support the Council on Environmental Quality’s environmental justice program of work (Sec. 60402)
- $30M: To support the Council on Environmental Quality’s role as steward of the National Environmental Policy Act and to improve stakeholder and community engagement (Sec. 60402)
WELC has worked with community partners and wildfire ecologists, scientists, and other experts on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 since last fall when it was first negotiated by Senate leadership. While the law has been dramatically scaled back since then, critical provisions that will help communities adapt to climate change by restoring forest resilience to wildfires, invest in climate-smart forest management on federal and non-federal lands, and support underserved forest landowners remain in the final package. In addition, the bill’s authors added substantial funding for environmental review and mature and old-growth forest protection at the urging of WELC and our partners.