SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Rachel Ventura advanced a new measure that would create a grant for local governments to help mitigate the impact of climate change.

“We need to encourage local governments to plant native trees and grasses, which are proven to help mitigate climate change through carbon capture,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “With the climate crisis that is happening across the world, it is evident that legislation through every level of government needs to focus on important issues like this to ensure our children have a healthier planet.”

Senate Bill 2357 creates the Healthy Forests, Wetlands, and Prairies Act which requires the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to establish a grant program for local governments for the purpose of restoring degraded forests and prairies to help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to mitigate the impact of climate change.

By appropriating state funds for this initiative, we are opening up new federal match funding possibilities for local governments to access to achieve this goal. Additionally, it allows grants under this program to be utilized for matching funds by public or private entities.

According to FDCE Conservation and Bioenergy, a Midwest-based conservation and solar energy company, native grasses are the best options for carbon-sequestering as they protect the soil from weather and water-run off. Over time, carbon levels increase and nutrients return to the soil. Since these plants are perennial, carbon stays within the plants and soil and out of the atmosphere.

“About 25% of global carbon emissions are captured by plant-rich landscapes such as forests, grasslands and rangelands,” said Ventura. “Carbon sequestration can be accelerated by planting trees such as oak and other native grasses. Illinois is poised to be a leader in environmentally-conscientious legislation and I’m proud to push this through to continue being a champion for our planet.”

Senate Bill 2357 passed the Senate Environment and Conservation Committee on Thursday and now heads to the Senate floor for further consideration.