Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Rooting for PWC - In support of the Reforestation Grant Program


I’m here today to express support for the Public Works Reforestation Grant Program to be included in the upcoming budget. As we are all aware, we are facing several environmental challenges, such as climate change, maintaining water quality, and habitat loss leaving many species vulnerable. However, reforestation can help us address all these issues. 

Forests provide critical environmental services to all residents here in Prince William County. They absorb carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas in the atmosphere contributing to climate change. They clean the air by intercepting particulate matter and absorbing other gaseous pollutants. Additionally, trees help prevent soil erosion and promote water quality. They also provide habitats for various wildlife species, making them an integral part of our ecosystem.

Unfortunately, over the years, we have been losing forests at an alarming rate due to human activities such as deforestation and urbanization. This has had a significant impact on the environment globally and locally. 

While I think it’s also important to protect the forests that we still have, this program would create opportunities to bring back forests that have been lost. Additionally, it would expand current reforestation efforts and provide an opportunity for private, residential, commercial, industrial, and HOA land to qualify that are currently left out of existing programs.

You might think that it’s not necessary to fund such initiatives. You might think, why don’t we just stop mowing and allow natural processes to return lawn to forest? That may have been true a long time ago. Today, however, the prevalence of invasive plant species that thrive in these early successional circumstances means it’s necessary to be active stewards of reforestation efforts until a native ecosystem has a chance to be established. 

This program would provide a critical starting point for native forests to grow and flourish, and would be crucial to a broader strategy to address a wide range of environmental and public health concerns in a cost-effective way. By planting more trees, we can support efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, improve air quality, protect water quality in our waterways and reservoirs, and create habitat for wildlife. 

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