The United States Plants More Trees As Climate Change Kills Forests | Chicago News

Contract workers hired in California carry giant Sequoia saplings planted on the hillside of Mountain Home State Demonstration Forest on the outskirts of Springville, California on April 26, 2022. (Carlos Avila Gonzalez / San Francisco Chronicle via AP, File)

Billings, Mon. (AP) — The Biden administration burned millions of acres on Monday as authorities struggled to counter the increasing sacrifice of forests in the country due to wildfires, insects and other signs of climate change. Announced plans to replant trees in the forest.

The devastating fires of recent years have been too hot for forests to regenerate quickly, far exceeding the government’s ability to replant trees. It created a 4.1 million acre backlog that needed replanting, officials said.

The USDA said it needed to quadruple the number of tree seedlings produced in the nursery to overcome the untreated portion and meet future needs. This was after Congress passed a bipartisan law last year requiring the Forest Department to plant 1.2 billion trees in the next decade, and in April as President Joe Biden heats up the country’s forests. After ordering the agency to make it more resilient.

Many of the administration’s broader agenda to tackle climate change are at a standstill amid disagreements in Congress, where the Democratic Party has a very thin majority. As a result, authorities need to take step-by-step measures, such as the announcement on Monday, to pursue a more fragmented approach. Meanwhile, the government is considering whether to declare a climate emergency that could open the door to more aggressive government action.

The Forest Department says it plans to expand its work from about 60,000 acres replanted last year to about 400,000 acres a year in the next few years to eliminate untreated areas of decimated forest area. Officials said. Most of the work is done in the western states, where mountain fires are currently occurring all year round.

“Our forests, rural communities, agriculture and economies are connected beyond a shared landscape, and their existence is at stake,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Birsak said in a statement announcing a reforestation program. I mentioned in. “Only through bold and climate-friendly actions … can ensure their future.”

To date, about 5.6 million acres have burned in the United States this year, and 2022 is at a pace comparable to or better than the record 2015 fire season, which burned 10.1 million acres. Many forests regenerate naturally after a fire, but if the flames are too strong, they can leave a barren landscape that remains for decades before the trees return.

This year’s Forest Department is spending more than $ 100 million on reforestation work. Under the federal infrastructure bill approved last year, spending is expected to grow further over the next few years to reach $ 260 million annually, according to government officials.

Proponents of some timber industries have been critical of last year’s reforestation legislation, saying it was not enough to turn the tide on the scale of the wildfire problem. They want more aggressive logging into thin stands that have grown too large due to years of fire control.

Due to changing practices to prevent the planted areas from overgrown as well, the planted stands are not densely populated and therefore less prone to fire, said Nature Conservancy’s North American Science Director. Said Joe Phageone.

But from finding enough seeds to hiring enough workers to plant them, the challenges to the Forest Office’s goals remain, Fargione said.

Many seedlings die before they mature due to droughts and insects that can be exacerbated by climate change.

“You have to be smart about where you plant,” Fargione said. “There are some places where the climate is already changing enough that it is much less likely that the trees will be successfully reconstructed.”

Living trees are the main “sink” of carbon dioxide that causes climate change as it enters the atmosphere, Fargione said. In short, it is important to replace the dead to prevent further deterioration of climate change.

Congress in 1980 created a reforestation trust for $ 30 million annually, previously capped from tariffs on timber products. It was enough money when the most important need for reforestation came from logging, but as the number of large-scale, high-intensity fires increased, it proved to be too small, officials said. I did.

Insects, diseases and timber harvests also affect the amount of land that needs to be reforested, but mostly due to fire. Over the last five years alone, over 5 million acres have been badly burned.

The United States Plants More Trees As Climate Change Kills Forests | Chicago News

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