Forest management and land preservation would become more affordable for private American landowners under bipartisan legislation introduced on March 25 by U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).  

“West Virginia is known to be wild and wonderful, in part, due to its vast mountainous forests,” Sen. Capito said. “This legislation helps maintain that natural beauty by making environmentally friendly forest conservation more affordable for private landowners, by incentivizing the employment of new techniques to better maintain their forests, and by reducing our carbon footprint.” 

The Forest Incentives Program Act of 2021, S. 1043, which Sen. Capito cosponsored with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a forest incentives program to keep forests intact and sequester carbon on private forest land of the United States, according to the text of the bill.

Specifically, S. 1043 would direct the USDA to establish an incentive program that allows eligible forest landowners to enter into a long-term contract to adopt conservation practices proven to deliver emissions reductions, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Capito’s office. 

If enacted, S. 1043 also would create financial incentives for commercial building owners to use biological products like wood as structural building materials instead of more energy-intensive materials, the summary states.

“Conservation efforts such as this are critical for ensuring that our forests remain strong and vibrant for generations to come,” said Sen. Capito. “I am proud to once again join Senator Shaheen in introducing this legislation, which will help support private forest owners and promote long-lasting forest sustainability.”

Both senators originally introduced the bipartisan Forest Incentives Program Act of 2020, S. 4643, in September 2020. However, the bill stalled in the U.S. Senate  Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee.

The newly reintroduced S. 1043 recently received endorsements from numerous local and national organizations, including the American Forest Foundation, the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Forest Landowners Association, the National Audubon Society, the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, and The Trust for Public Land, among others.