US Representative for Washington State introduces Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources (RNGR) Support Act of 2023; legislation aims to strengthen, secure national reforestation pipeline by codifying US Forest Service's RNGR program

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WASHINGTON , September 18, 2023 (press release) –

Rep. Schrier Introduces Legislation to Solidify the Forest Service's National Reforestation Efforts

U.S. Representative Kim Schrier (D-WA) introduced bipartisan bill H.R. 5381 -Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources (RNGR) Support Act of 2023. This bipartisan legislation seeks to strengthen and secure the national reforestation pipeline by codifying the United States Forest Service's RNGR program.

The RNGR program currently plays an integral role in addressing increased nursery demand for information regarding the implementation of native species in restoration, reforestation, and conservation projects across the country. While currently underfunded, the existing RNGR program provides crucial information and assistance and as such, contributes to long-term goals such as better air and water quality, increased timber production, and sustainability in our nation's forests.

Nationwide, forests face immense danger due to diseases, pests, and climate change, sparking the need to strengthen seed selection, nursery capacity, workforce, and other elements in the reforestation pipeline. The RNGR Support Act addresses this need by formally authorizing the RNGR program and providing it with its own budget line item and funding. Taking this step will solidify the program's footing and allow it to focus on technical and financial assistance to nurseries, research projects, and provide compelling and accessible online resources.

The RNGR Support Act would strengthen reforestation efforts and coordination across landowners to support forest conservation goals by:

* Establishing dedicated, full-time staff for RNGR to expand capacity and impact.

* Expanding technical assistance and workforce development training to address specialized staff shortages across nursery and seed collection activities.

* Creating opportunities for State, Tribal, and private nurseries to apply for infrastructure improvement/expansion grants.

* Allowing RNGR to serve as a convener of nursery, tree improvement, and tree planting interests nationwide with an emphasis on climate change mitigation, resilience, and adaptation.

"In the midst of increased threats to our forests like wildfires, drought, and disease, it is clear that we must take action to strengthen and streamline our national reforestation efforts," saidRep. Schrier. "Codifying the Forest Service's RNGR program will help build out a robust, collaborative, and effective national reforestation pipeline. I am proud to introduce this legislation alongside Representative Duarte to support the long-term health of our forests and public ."

"The USDA Forest Service Nursery, Reforestation and Genetic Resources Program (RNGR) represents a key but under-resourced program for providing technical training, coordination, and support to state, private, and tribal nursery efforts," said George Geissler, Washington State Forester. "The RNGR Support Act will provide additional funding and resources for the RNGR Program while creating opportunities for state, private and tribal nurseries to apply for infrastructure improvements to help these nurseries across the country produce enough seedlings to adequately address the nation's reforestation needs, while ensuring the seed and seedling supplies are genetically suited to meet the needs of a changing climate."

As large, high-severity wildfires continue to burn across the nation, radically altering our forest landscapes, we need to increase the pace and scale of restoration. Enhancing our restoration pipeline, the critical supply chain infrastructure that supports the entire reforestation process from seed collection to seedling cultivation, planting, and everything in between, is a critical part of the solution," said Brian Kittler, Vice President of Forest Restoration at American Forests. "We commend the proposed bill, which will strengthen the reforestation pipeline by expanding the U.S. Forest Service's capacity to coordinate with  managers across jurisdictions and provide the technical and financial resources to support nurseries and other key roles in the restoration pipeline. We cannot reforest the millions of acres of burned and damaged U.S. forests without our nurseries and seed collectors. We urge lawmakers to codify and invest in the U.S. Forest Service the Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources Program and support the long-term health of our forests."

The RNGR Support Act is endorsed by the National Association of State Foresters, American Forests, American Forest Foundation, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Wild Turkey Federation, National Association of Forest Service Retirees, The Nature Conservancy, Bipartisan Policy Center Action, National Association of University Forest Resource Programs, National Woodlands, American Chestnut Foundation, Forest Stewards Guild,  Company, Rayonier,  180, Walnut Council, Massachusetts Forest Alliance, Mast Reforestation, Silvaseed, Cal Forest Nurseries, and Winston County Self Help Cooperative.

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