SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Rachel Ventura advanced legislation that would create a grant for local governments to help mitigate the impact of climate change and tackle growing emission rates from automobiles and trucks.

“Every level of government needs to address the climate crisis and do their part to help our planet. This grant will help local governments that cannot afford to otherwise take apart of reducing the state’s carbon footprint,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “By creating this opportunity and encouraging local governments to plant native trees and grasses, which are proven to help mitigate climate change through carbon capture, we can aid the process of healing our planet for future generations significantly.”

The Healthy Forests, Wetlands, and Prairies Act would require the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to establish a grant program for local governments to restore degraded forests and prairies, encourage planting trees and grasses along roadways to help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and address flooding and prevent snow and dirt drifts.

Under the grant program, local governments would be able to use the funds toward local projects restoring or expanding forests, wetlands, prairies, or other natural landscapes demonstrated to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Further, they could use the money for education and marketing regarding local projects or steps community members may take to promote the growth of native vegetation that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Scientific research underscores the efficacy of native grasses and trees in carbon capture. In response to these pressing needs, this bill endeavors to establish a grant program tailored for local governments.
"Encouraging our local governments to play an active role in mitigating climate change is essential right now," said State Representative Hoan Huynh (D-Chicago). "It will take all of us to beat climate change, and establishing the Forests, Wetlands, and Prairies Grant Program will allow us to better protect our environment. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues to continue to confront this challenge."

Ventura encourages all local government to apply and consider lining their roadways with trees and native grasses where applicable.

Senate Bill 2781 passed the House on Wednesday and now heads to the governor for further consideration.