Forests feel spending boost from infrastructure bill

Rob Chaney

The wind from Washington, D.C., blows through Montana’s forests, and it smells like money.

More than $7 billion in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provisions will fertilize every aspect of Rocky Mountain trees, from seedling nurseries to wood product marketing. In between, look for better-paid wildland firefighters, more fire science, conservation of old timberlands, and a lot more logging, fuels removal and road construction.

Thinning project aims at pre-logging landscape

“How this is going to be spent hasn’t been figured out yet, but this feels like a big win,” said Wes Swaffer, director of forest restoration for the national organization American Forests. “With expanding funding levels like this, it’s important to think about how that money hits and get a pipeline of projects developed. In a week or so, we should have more details on what that looks like.”

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

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