NACD Applauds the Passing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act 11/08/2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 2021
NACD APPLAUDS THE PASSING OF THE BIPARTISAN
INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT AND JOBS ACT
WASHINGTON – The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) applauds the passing of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“NACD has diligently advocated for the inclusion of conservation measures in the bill. We are pleased that Congress has voted to make significant investments in the environment and green infrastructure,” NACD President Michael Crowder said. “We applaud the provisions that serve to strengthen climate resilience and address inequities in climate impacted communities across the country.”
The effects of climate change – in both rural and urban communities – are felt more and more each year. The bill includes key investments in the resilience of America’s physical and natural systems and protection against droughts, floods, and wildfires:
- $500 million for Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO)and $118 million for the Watershed Rehabilitation Program. These programs are a critical tool for helping rural communities adapt to increasing weather volatility, creating climate resilience and reducing risk against catastrophic weather events. Working with local sponsors like conservation districts, projects create and protect vital infrastructure while conserving and protecting natural resources and contributing to local economies.
- $300 million for the Emergency Watershed Program (EWP). The EWP Program allows communities to quickly address serious and long-lasting damages to infrastructure and to the land resulting from natural disasters. Some eligible activities include: removal of debris from stream channels, road culverts and bridges; protection of eroded streambanks, establishment of vegetative cover on critically eroding lands, repair of levees and structures, repair of drainage facilities.
- $3.3 billion for wildfire risk reduction efforts and $2 billion for the USDA and DOI to carry out ecological restoration projects on public and private lands. The bill enhances funding streams to mitigate wildfire risks. Major investments include:
- $500 million to USDA to award Community Wildfire Defense Grants to at-risk communities.
- $500 million over five years for prescribed burns.
- $500 million for mechanical tree harvesting and clearing “in an ecologically appropriate manner.”
- $500 million for developing fuel breaks and control locations.
- $600 million for USDA and DOI to convert at least 1,000 seasonal firefighters to permanent, year-round positions and increase firefighter salaries.
- $180 million over 2 years for the Joint Chief’s Landscape Restoration Partnership via NRCS and FS. This program provides assistance to producers and landowners, to improve the health and resilience of forest landscapes across the National Forest System and state, tribal, and private land. Its objectives are to reduce risk of wildfire, protect water quality and supply, and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.
- $1 billion for FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program. This program supports states, local communities, tribes, and territories as they undertake hazard mitigation projects and build community resilience with nature-based solutions (e.g., green infrastructure and low-impact development). These solutions both mitigate natural hazard risks and provide communities with co-benefits such as enhanced water quality and wildlife habitat.
- $65 billon for Broadband improvements and infrastructure. This includes $4 billion for rural broadband construction programs, which $2 billion allocated to USDA’s Reconnect program and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.
- Inclusion of the Repairing Existing Land by Adding Necessary Trees Act (REPLANT). REPLANT removes the $30 million funding cap of USFS’s Reforestation Trust Fund providing the agency with additional funding for reforestation projects. The program will now receive an estimated $123 million annually.
- $7 billion to Army Corp of Engineers for flood mitigation projects. Priority will be given to previously authorized projects that had never been funded.
About the National Association of Conservation Districts:
The National Association of Conservation Districts is the nonprofit organization that represents the nation’s 3,000 conservation districts, their state and territory associations and the 17,000 men and women who serve on their governing boards. For more than 70 years, local conservation districts have worked with cooperating landowners and managers of private working lands to help them plan and apply effective conservation practices. For more information about NACD, visit: www.nacdnet.org.