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H.R. 4976 (115th): Empowering State Forestry to Improve Forest Health Act of 2018

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Feb 7, 2018.

Empowering State Forestry to Improve Forest Health Act of 2018

This bill amends the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 to direct the Forest Service to establish a landscape-scale restoration program to provide financial and technical assistance for landscape-scale restoration projects on state and private forest lands that maintain or improve benefits from trees and forests on such lands.

The program shall:

address the national private forest conservation priorities specified under the Act; and enhance public benefits from trees and forests, as identified in a state-wide assessment and a long-term state-wide forest resource strategy under the Act. The program shall also have one or more objectives, including to:

protect or improve water quality or quantity; reduce wildfire risk, including through hazardous fuels treatment; protect or enhance wildlife habitat; improve forest health and forest ecosystems, including addressing native, nonnative, and invasive pests; or enhance opportunities for new and existing markets in which the production and use of wood products strengthens local and regional economies. The Forest Service shall allocate from the amounts made available under this bill:

50% for the competitive process for distributing funds for landscape-scale restoration projects; and 50% proportionally to states to maximize the achievement of the restoration program's objectives and to address the highest national priorities, as identified in state-wide assessments and long-term state-wide forest resource strategies. The bill amends the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 to allocate funds and use specified authorities of the Department of Agriculture or of the Department of the Interior, as appropriate, to assist cross-boundary hazardous fuel reduction and wildfire mitigation projects.