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Let's Plant Trees For Minnesota

Friday, April 26, 2019

Let’s Plant Trees For Minnesota

Friday April 26th is Arbor Day in Minnesota. It is a fitting day to share that as a part of responding to climate change, we have a plan to plant trees. Millions of trees.

J. Sterling Morton, the Nebraskan who first proposed the tree planting holiday in 1872 said, “Each generation takes the earth as trustees.”

As trustees in this generation, we are realizing we need to care for the earth in new ways. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has advised that we have 12 years to avoid the worst effects of climate change. University of Minnesota scientists are telling us that Minnesota is experiencing the most profound changes in the country due to climate change. We know it is time to face this challenge. That’s why we have set a 100% clean energy goal. We are investing in solar energy and electric vehicle infrastructure. We also know we need to be employing natural climate solutions that sequester carbon.

In November, the Journal Science Advances published a study on natural climate solutions. It found that “managing the nation’s landscapes with carbon in mind could cut greenhouse gas emissions as much as 21 percent or about equal to the discharge of all cars and trucks on the road today.” Minnesota was identified in the report as among the states that could positively impact carbon emissions the most through land management solutions. We could reduce our net carbon emissions by up to a third through natural climate solutions like replanting forests.

With this in mind, our House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Bill has three interrelated strategies that respond to our changing climate while preserving the integrity of our natural resources. First, it establishes a Minnesota goal to plant 1 million additional trees each year for the next four years (2020-2023) to sequester carbon and improve forest health. Planting a million more trees a year for the next four years is an innovative, problem solving, cost-effective and efficient way to reduce carbon concentrations.

Second, this tree planting goal will help respond to Emerald Ash Borer. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive forest insect that attacks and kills ash trees. The spread of EAB has already had a serious impact in Minnesota and it will continue impacting our state in the future. After years of inaction, the Environment and Natural Resources Finance Bill finally faces the problem of EAB. It provides funding of $1 million a year for grants to remove and dispose of ash trees within counties quarantined for emerald ash borer, while planting new trees that are appropriate to our changing climate and the ecology of ash forests.

Third, our House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Bill funds grants to counties to collect, transport, and process wood waste into usable biomass fuel for energy facilities in St. Paul and in Greater Minnesota. As difficult as it is to be losing ash stands in our state, our plan is to make sure these trees are put to good use by providing energy for the people of Minnesota.

In this generation, as we are facing the challenge of responding to climate change, we know we need all options on the table. We need to be investing in renewable energy, electrifying our transportation system, and supporting other innovating strategies like planting trees for the sake of sequestering carbon and using waste wood for energy.

This Arbor Day, we invite you to plant a tree. Our plan is to plant millions of them. The Minnesota we will be giving our children and grandchildren will be better for it.

Rep. Rick Hansen
Rep. Anne Claflin
Rep. John Persell
Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn
Rep. Todd Lippert

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