Overlooking the Strait of Juan De Fuca from a Land Trust-protected property.
This month, land trusts across the nation had reason to celebrate as the U.S. Congress passed the $368 billion Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, also known as the Climate Bill and the Build Back Better Bill. This landmark legislation represents the largest-ever federal investment in climate action, and underscores the essential role land conservation can play in addressing climate change.
Of particular relevance to land trusts and the landowners we work with are federal resources that emphasize investment in voluntary private land conservation and offer significant support for land trusts and landowners implementing natural climate change solutions — such as forestry programs, farm soil retention, coastal climate preparedness, and other conservation programs.
The Act includes $20 billion for the Farm Bill conservation program, and will create funding for agricultural practices or enhancements that directly improve soil carbon; reduce nitrogen loss; and sequester carbon dioxide, methane, or nitrous oxide emissions. Land trusts and landowners will have access to an additional $1.4 billion for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to be allocated over four years.
A farmer in Beaver Valley clears debris in a field below Chimacum Ridge. Photo by Robert Tognoli.
Another way the Act provides opportunity for land trusts to expand the work they and their partners may already be doing is its investment in coastal communities and climate resilience. It is making $2.6 billion available over the next four years to coastal states, Tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, and local governments for the conservation, restoration, and protection of coastal and marine habitats and marine fisheries to prepare for changing climate conditions.
Carefully managed forestlands sequester carbon, retain water, and provide habitat for native wildlife threatened by changing climate conditions. Major investments in privately owned forests in the Inflation Reduction Act align with Jefferson Land Trust’s decades-long emphasis on working with willing landowners to protect forests, including Chimacum Ridge Forest.
The Act’s investments also include competitive grant programs to:
Tree planting at Donovan Creek
There will also be funding available to provide direct loans and grants to projects that improve energy or water efficiency; enhance indoor air quality or sustainability; implement zero-emission electricity generation and low-emission building materials or processes; and address climate resilience.
We look forward to working with federal and state and county granting agencies, and in partnership with other local nonprofits, to secure funds that will help Jefferson Land Trust take immediate climate action for the benefit of our entire community.