The bill presented to the Rhode Island General Assembly seeks to establish the "OLD GROWTH FOREST PROTECTION ACT" to protect old growth forests, rare forest ecosystems, and wildlands. It introduces definitions for these areas and sets criteria for their identification. The bill prohibits extractive logging on state or municipal land within these forests and requires inventories to be conducted before logging to ensure areas that meet the criteria for protection are not disturbed. The natural heritage program must approve logging operations, and a forest ecologist or registered arborist must supervise on-site activities. Additionally, the bill mandates that the natural heritage program maintain a visual record of all logging operations.

The bill also establishes the natural heritage program within the state government, which is responsible for protecting native biodiversity, inventorying forests before logging, designating natural area preserves, and approving logging operations and prescribed burning. The program is also tasked with creating a biodiversity protection plan and a rare and endangered species list. Violations of the provisions are considered felonies, with fines and potential imprisonment, and the department of attorney general is responsible for prosecuting violations. The bill includes several insertions to the existing law, such as expanding the powers and duties of the director of the natural heritage program, and amends sections related to forest fire management, increasing fines and imprisonment terms for various offenses. The bill also amends the "2021 Act on Climate" to include the director of the natural heritage program in the executive climate change coordinating council and emphasizes the protection of forests for carbon storage. Lastly, it amends the "Natural Areas Protection Act of 1993" by changing the definition of "Director" to the director of the natural heritage program and streamlining the process for designating natural area preserves. The act is set to take effect upon passage.