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6/8/2021 Senate passes Ciccone’s Forest Conservation Act
STATE HOUSE – The Senate tonight passed legislation (2021-S 0470) sponsored by Sen. Frank A. Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence) which creates a forest conservation commission to seek new funding and identify incentives for landowners to maintain their land as forest.

Sen. Bridget G. Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, Narragansett, South Kingstown) is a cosponsor of the legislation.

“Rhode Island’s beautiful and vast forests are truly a remarkable natural resource for our residents and visitors and we must do everything in our power to preserve and support these habitats into the foreseeable future.  This commission will allow us to protect and nurture our forests, cementing all of the environmental benefits and public good that our forests provide to our state for countless generations to come,” said Senator Ciccone.

The legislation establishes a forest conservation commission to be coordinated and staffed by the Department of Environmental Management to implement the following objectives:
  • Assess and recommend new funding sources to conserve forest land across the forest continuum of rural to urban landscapes;
  • Identify incentives to encourage forest landowners to maintain and manage their land and preserve forest values;
  • Encourage forest conservation as a means to sequester carbon and mitigate climate change and maintain the numerous other benefits provided by forests;
  • Help to increase and create new markets for Rhode Island forest products to store carbon long-term and create new jobs;
  • Assess impediments to the expansion of the Rhode Island forest products industry and recommend changes to remove impediments;
  • Assess means to encourage the improvement and expansion of urban and community forestry; and
  • Coordinate and seek input from key stakeholders to identify other science-based initiatives to promote the conservation of Rhode Island forestland.
No member of the commission shall be paid for their service on the commission.  The duties of the commission will include developing the criteria necessary for defining the most important forest land under this the chapter, making a reasonably accurate inventory of all land in the state that meets the definition of forest land, and informing the public, public officials, and other citizens and interested persons of the provisions of the bill.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives where Rep. June S. Speakman (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth) has introduced the companion legislation (2021-H 5760).

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903