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Shaheen Introduces Bill to Help Granite State Forest and Commercial Building Owners with Sustainability

(Washington, DC) – Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reintroduced the Forest Incentives Program Act of 2018, which would help landowners make forest management more affordable and provide them with sustainable options to preserve their land. With financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), private forest owners would be encouraged to employ environmentally-conscious forest management techniques. Additionally, non-residential building owners would be incentivized to use less-energy intensive products for structural building materials.

“Private forests play a critical role in sustaining our rural economies, preserving vital wildlife habitats and improving our air quality by sequestering carbon. Unfortunately, private forest owners, many of them families, are under significant pressure to develop their forestlands, which would jeopardize sustainable jobs and key ecosystems,” said Shaheen. “My bill provides private New Hampshire forest owners and commercial building owners with the resources they need to implement sustainable practices that will both strengthen our rural economy and reduce our carbon footprint. By encouraging these types of investments, we can help Granite Staters, and residents in rural communities across the country, preserve their land in an affordable and ecological way.”

"The New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association is happy to support Senator Shaheen’s legislation, which unites four critical priorities for the Granite State: sustainable forestry and land management, rural jobs, green construction and environmental protection,” said Jasen Stock, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association. “This bill is an important step forward to help New Hampshire private forest owners invest in sustainable management practices.”

“The Forest Society would like to thank Senator Shaheen for her support of the forests in New Hampshire.  In addition to their deep beauty, these natural areas help filter the water we drink, clean the air we breathe and provide economic opportunities on which our state depends. The challenge we face is sustaining this prominent role in the quality of life we enjoy here,” said Jane Difley, President of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. “Fortunately, Senator Shaheen recognizes this challenge and has identified the key stakeholder group who can help address it: private forest owners.  Her Forest Incentives Program Act will help them keep their forests intact by offering incentives to undertake sustainable forest management practices.  The result will be a win for our forests, our environment and our economy.”

“With 21 million Americans owning and caring for more U.S. forests than the government, conservation incentives for family forest owners, like those in Senator Shaheen’s Forest Incentives Program Act, are more important than ever,” said Tom Martin, President of the American Forest Foundation. “These incentives will help families protect our air, water, and wildlife habitat, capture carbon, all while producing forest products Americans use every day.” 

“Senator Shaheen’s bill will put a missing tool in the toolbox to help forest landowners act on climate change,” said Jad Daley, Vice President for Conservation Programs at American Forests. “America’s forests and forest products already capture 14 percent of our annual carbon emissions, and this bill will create landowner incentives that help our forests do even more. We are grateful for Senator Shaheen’s leadership, which will equally benefit our environment and rural economies.”

Specifically, the bill directs the USDA to establish an incentive program that allows eligible forest landowners to enter into a long-term contract to adopt conservation practices that have been proven to deliver emissions reductions. The bill also creates financial incentives for commercial building owners to use biological products, such as wood, as structural building materials instead of more energy-intensive materials.

Shaheen previously introduced this bill in the 114th Congress. The Forest Incentives Program Act has been endorsed by numerous local and national organizations, including: The National Alliance of Forest Owners, NH Timberland Owners Association, American Forests, American Forest Foundation, The Lyme Timber Company, Trust for Public Land, Pinchot Institute for Conservation, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and Rayonier.