Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06) introduced the White Oak Resilience Act, a crucial piece of legislation which would ensure a sustainable future of the American white oak. At current consumption rates, the American white oak tree population will begin to decline significantly in the next 10-15 years, with even more extreme declines over the next several decades. White oak is not only a cornerstone to the ecosystem, but it also directly impacts our signature Kentucky bourbon industry.
This legislation addresses the critical shortages faced by the white oak population, underlining its vital importance to the environment, the economy, and the bourbon industry. The act’s key provisions range from authorizing the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Forest Service to actively participate in white oak restoration projects to harnessing private investment and establishing a white oak restoration fund to support white oak regeneration on national forests.
"The White Oak Resilience Act is not just about saving trees; it's about preserving our heritage, safeguarding biodiversity, and fortifying an industry that is critical to Kentucky’s economy,” said Congressman Barr. “The future of the bourbon industry, which relies on the unique characteristics of white oak barrels, and the future of countless ecosystems are intertwined with the sustainability of the white oak."
“I am proud to join Rep. Barr and our colleagues in introducing the White Oak Resilience Act to provide long-term sustainability for our white oak forests. White Oak forests cover millions of acres across the country and support numerous wildlife and plant ecosystems while also providing a critical resource for several American industries from furniture to wine and spirits. This bill is a comprehensive investment in the conservation and restoration activities across several federal land management agencies for white oak trees. I look forward to getting this bill passed into law so we can conserve this critical resource for generations to come.” -Congressman Ami Bera (CA-06)
“White Oak trees are an essential part of the whiskey making process for our many Tennessee distilleries. I support the White Oak Resilience Act so that these businesses can continue to thrive and our famous Tennessee whiskey enjoyed around the world.”- Congressman Scott DesJarlais (TN-04)
“Maintaining healthy white oak forests is important for the environment and for a wide range of industries in Tennessee, including furniture, flooring and in the manufacture of oak casks for Jack Daniels whiskey production. Since it takes 60 to 100 years for white oaks to reach maturity, the time to act is now to ensure white oak is available for future generations.”- Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09)
“I’m proud to join Rep. Barr to protect the white oak tree population for decades to come,” said Rep. McGarvey (KY-03). “It’s crucial we take action to grow more white oak trees now — it’s good for our planet, our economy, and let’s face it, you can’t make bourbon without it. The White Oak Resilience Act will help maintain our white oak population, ensuring economic success, environmental stewardship, and good bourbon well into the future.”
"While there are plenty of white oak trees out there right now, the data clearly shows that regeneration isn’t happening at the levels we’ve historically seen, and soon this will be a serious problem for everything from the American bourbon industry to native plants and wildlife if we don’t act today,” said Jason Meyer, Executive Director of the White Oak Initiative. "Fortunately, this bill proposes much-needed measures to rejuvenate our white oak forests, promoting biodiversity and supporting the hard-working folks who rely on them."