In this Missoulian articleRob Cheney rounded up some interesting people to comment. First, Wes Swaffer of American Forests:
One thing Swaffer was particularly excited about was the unleashing of the Reforestation Trust Fund, which pays for nurturing and planting new trees on national forests. Until now, the fund could only spend $30 million a year. The infrastructure bill allows it to spend $266 million a year on a backlog of almost 4 million acres of U.S. Forest Service lands.
“This is everything from getting seedlings in production to putting cone-collection crews out there,” Swaffer said. “That $30 million cap prevented much increase in activities, even though
there’s significant need from fires and insect infestation and disease. This will create economic opportunities in rural communities. We don’t know who will be doing that labor, but it expands Forest Service capacity.”
Hopefully jobs in reforestation and cone collection will create economic opportunities. As many here remember, last time the FS increased its capacity (70’s and 80’s) the lowest-bidder contracting procedures didn’t always lead to the employment of locals.
Also Joshua Lynsen of Land Trust Alliance:
More FEMA Bucks
A FEMA spokesperson on Friday confirmed the agency was repositioning itself to “focus on system-wide critical lifelines and large projects that protect infrastructure and community
systems.” Along with the new community grant program, it has authorization to spend $800 million on dam safety and removal, $3.5 billion on flood mitigation, $1 billion on cybersecurity grants, and $500 million for the Safeguarding Tomorrow Through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act revolving loan fund.
More Tranmission Lines.
Lynsen added the infrastructure bill has money for new interstate electric transmission projects, “including safeguards to avoid disrupting sensitive environmental and cultural heritage sites. This language could provide important protection for lands in conservation status as our nation shifts to more electrification and away from fossil fuels.”
That could help wind and solar projects get their electricity to larger residential markets.