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6/25/2021 House OKs Speakman’s Forest Conservation Act
STATE HOUSE – The House today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. June S. Speakman to create a forest conservation commission to seek new funding and identify incentives for landowners to maintain their land as forest.

“Especially at a time when property is so valuable, there is a lot of financial pressure on people who own forested land to sell it for development. Fortunately, many owners recognize that forests are a tremendously valuable resource that benefits all of us by providing us clean air, animal habitats and green open space,” said Representative Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol). “We need this commission to identify ways we can help and encourage owners to preserve their woodlands, because we all benefit from forest protection.”

The legislation (2021-H 5760) 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.
The bill now heads to the Senate, which has passed companion legislation (2021-S 0470) sponsored by Sen. Frank A. Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence).

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923