Luján, Cornyn, Heinrich Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Support Development of Seedling Nurseries, Reforestation and Habitat Restoration Programs

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced The Seedlings for Sustainable Habitat Restoration Act of 2023 – bipartisan legislation that allows funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support the development of seedling nurseries at state forestry agencies, local private or non-profit entities, and institutions of higher education.

From 2001 to 2021, the US lost 11.1 million hectares of tree cover from wildfires and 33.1 million hectares from all other drivers of loss. While the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 provides funding for tree planting programs, it does not address the need for expanded nursery capacity. Without capital funds to increase the tree nursery capacity, seedling supplies will not keep pace with critical reforestation efforts underway across the nation’s threatened habitats.

The Seedlings for Sustainable Habitat Restoration Act of 2023 allows for the rapid expansion of critical nurseries around the country and provides the native seedlings that are urgently needed to support reforestation and habitat restoration programs at the US Forest Service and other federal, state, and local agencies.

“Whether providing us with oxygen, protecting communities from flooding, purifying our water, or simply providing shade on a hot day, our forests are vital to every community,” said Senator Luján. “Tragically, over the last 20 years, our country has lost tree cover at an alarming rate, disrupting our ecosystem and the critical benefits it provides to countless Americans. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that addresses this shortage by allowing funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to be used to support the development of seedling nurseries, both locally and nationally. This funding will also help the rapid expansion of crucial seedlings nationwide to support our reforestation and habitat restoration programs.”

“We have an urgent need to plant more trees to recover healthy forests in the aftermath of devastating wildfire seasons like the one we experienced last year in New Mexico. If we are going to be successful, we must increase our support for local nurseries like John T. Harrington Forestry Research Center in Mora that supply the seedlings that grow into climate resilient trees,” said Senator Heinrich.

“This bill will provide New Mexico with much-needed support to develop our state nursery and increase the production of climate-smart tree seedlings,” said Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department Cabinet Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst. “This legislation will enable the scale-up that is needed to grow and plant trees that can survive in the harsh environment of lands burned by wildfire.”

“The needs of New Mexico in reforestation are immense and this bill will provide New Mexico State University with much-needed support to continue and expand our production of climate-smart tree seedlings at the John T Harrington Forestry Research Center,” said NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “This legislation will enable the New Mexico Reforestation Center collaborative to leverage the capacity of three universities and a state agency to provide greater assistance with massive need to grow and plant trees not only in the state but throughout the western region.”

Summary of the bill is available HERE. Full text of the bill is available HERE.



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