Thanks to Danielle Watson, Assistant Director of Government Affairs & External Relations for the Society of American Foresters, for this legislative update (8/31/17) on the federal Urban and Community Forestry budget for FY 2018. In his budget proposal, the President had zeroed out funding for UCF. There’s good news in this update, but we are not out of the woods yet. Please be in regular communication with your members of Congress as per Danielle’s recommendation below.
Danielle Watson: The House Interior Appropriations bill had near-level funding for Urban and Community Forestry. The Senate bill hasn’t been released yet.
The message now is for folks to contact their Senators and Representatives to tell them to “support FY17 levels for Urban & Community Forestry” or “support level funding for Urban & Community Forestry” as the appropriation bills will eventually be making their way to full votes on the House and Senate floors, or at least be negotiated at some point before the end of the year.
There’s likely to be a short-term agreement when Congress comes back in order to extend their current deadline of Sept 30 to pass a spending bill. Then they’ll fight it out at the end of the year and either pass another continuing resolution (would continue current funding levels) or an omnibus appropriations bill, which would have new spending numbers based on priorities.
This week, please call, write and/or tweet these two US Congress members from New York who are on the powerful House Appropriations Committee:
US Congressman José Serrano (202) 225-4361) who has historically been supportive of urban forestry, and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (202) 225-6506) who has also been strong on the environment. If you are a constituent of theirs be sure to let them know; however, we can all call! Say you are appealing to them as members of the House Appropriations Committee who deliberate on behalf of all Americans.
They need to hear why urban forestry is so important to you. Emphasize the $$ value of the urban forest, about the fact that trees pay us back. “Cutting the federal urban forestry budget will cost Americans more money that it will save!”
Congressman Serrano represents New York’s 15th Congressional District, loosely bounded by the Harlem, Bronx, and East Rivers on the west, south, and east, extending north up past Fordham Road.
Congresswoman Lowey represents New York’s 17th Congressional District, which lies in the Lower Hudson Valley and includes central and northwestern Westchester County and all of Rockland County.
Sample Tweets to Reps José Serrano and Nita Lowey on House Appropriations Committee:
As you may have heard, President Trump’s 2018 Federal Budget proposal has $0 for urban forestry funding nationwide. What are the potential impacts of this to us in New York State, and how can we mobilize to prevent this from happening?
The key is to reach out to our MOCs (members of Congress) now. This is as simple as making a weekly phone call that takes two minutes or less, for which you can see a script later in this blog post. This post will walk you through it.
But first, what would happen to the urban forestry program in New York if the federal UF budget zeroes out? Here’s a partial list:
-We would lose our 2 part-time (and only) paid staff from the Council. We would see the elimination of 6 full-time employees from State employment and 2 part-time staff from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County.
-The Council would lose all federal grant funding and most likely cease to exist as a resource to the public.
-The Council’s Arbor Day grant program aimed at assisting small communities would be terminated.
-The NYSUFC website/blog, ReLeaf conference, and other educational outreach would end.
-The EPF (cost-share) grant program would be under-supported by DEC forestry staff.
-15,000,000 New York residents currently being supported by the urban forestry program, particularly in large cities and towns, would lose that funding and technical assistance.
What can we do to prevent this budget cut?
The House of Representatives is considering the budget now. The most effective thing for each of us to do is to write or call our congressperson immediately. Your congressperson is your voice in the House of Representatives. If you don’t know who represents your U.S. Congressional District, you can find him or her quickly through this tool: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find
What should we say when we call?
Your congressperson’s staff is there to hear your concerns and will politely take your opinion and pass it on. Depending on how busy they are, they may ask for your name and address to verify you are in their district. You should provide that. Your message should be concise and heartfelt.
Here is a sample script:
“Hi, my name is _________ and I live in the Congressman/Congresswoman’s District. I’m concerned that in President Trump’s proposed budget, he has slashed funding to urban and community forestry. Funding for urban forestry comes through the U.S. Forest Service, which is funded through Interior Appropriations. Urban forests are vital to making our cities livable. They cool our cities, they reduce stormwater runoff, they increase property values, they sequester carbon, and they do much more. Please restore full funding to the US Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program.”
When should we act?
The best thing is to call weekly (or more) until the House decides on the budget. Multiple calls from one constituent are usually all tallied and counted, so don’t hesitate to keep calling. Staff will tell you that if people all call on one day, it has more impact. So please join us for Save Our Urban Forests Mondays! #SaveOurUrbanForestsMondays
If you can’t call on Monday, another day is fine.
What else can we do?
The more voices that are heard, the better. Please share this message far and wide and activate professionals and your community members to join with you. Ask them to call every Monday (or more) until the House settles their budget debate (we will keep you updated). Share this post via email, social media, or word of mouth to as many folks as you can.
Thanks so much! And thanks to our editor Michelle for her help with this post. —David
For three years, the Council has been administering Arbor Day grants that provide funding to communities who wanted to have their first-ever Arbor Day celebrations and begin to build their urban forestry programs. These grants have benefited 37 New York communities whose inaugural Arbor Day celebrations you can read about here on the blog.
What about those municipalities or non-profits that have established programs and want to kick things up a notch (or many notches)? Here, colleagues to the Northwest advise on how to make sponsorship of programs and events a reality. With its current population of 472,000, Surrey, BC would rank as the 37th largest city in the U.S. Their successes as a large city with sponsorship came via strategies that are translatable to smaller communities. First, have a look at how Surrey, BC put this into practice with their annual Party for the Planet, a day-long celebration for their equivalent of Arbor Day in the U.S.
Story and images by Mark McPherson, Executive Director of the Urban Forest Carbon Registry
The urban forests of the U.S. are long overdue to earn certified carbon credits. Carbon buyers purchased $700 million in carbon credits in the U.S. over the last decade ($4.5 billion worldwide). Yet not a single dollar of that money can go to the trees in the cities and towns of America.
Everyone in urban forestry knows the documented benefits of ecosystem services provided by trees in cities, yet urban forests receive relatively little funding as municipalities struggle to meet basic utility and human service needs. Furthermore, urban tree canopy is being lost in many cities due to growth and development.
The Urban Forest Carbon Registry (the Registry) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is working to make it possible for urban tree planting and preservation projects to earn and sell carbon credits. Money from the sale of the credits would go directly to the projects that earned those credits.
The Registry has developed practical carbon protocols for urban forestry projects. These protocols, one for tree planting and one for tree preservation, will be the “rulebooks” that projects must follow to earn certified credits.
The Registry assembled a drafting group of national stakeholders from many areas of urban forestry including Greg McPherson, Scott Maco, and Andy Trotter to address the quantification issues—as well as representatives of municipal forestry, non-profit tree organizations, utilities, transportation professionals, and watershed experts. You can view the protocols on the Registry website at www.ufregistry.org.
Good news! For FY 2017-2018, Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget once again designates $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), including $1 million for urban forestry for the second year in a row. This will ensure another round of EPF/cost-share grants either later this year or in 2018.
NYS Urban Forestry Program Coordinator Mary Kramarchyk says, “These grants help large and small communities plant and maintain trees. Trees provide myriad ecological and economic benefits in addition to the aesthetic benefits most of us are aware of. Among these, trees sequester carbon, aid grey infrastructure in stormwater mitigation, and enhance the economic vitality of our downtown areas.”
The NYS Urban Forestry Council is pleased to announce available funding for small communities to have an Arbor Day tree planting event and to establish a community based forestry program. This funding has been provided by the USDA Forest Service and the NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program (and is NOT associated with the Arbor Day Foundation nor part of the NYS DEC EPF community grants program).
Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded to communities or non-profits (that work in partnership with communities) to celebrate Arbor Day 2017 by both planting a tree (or trees) and forming a volunteer tree committee or tree board within the municipality. To be considered for a grant, please complete and return the enclosed application.
The intention of this grant is to help promote and establish a meaningful community forestry program. Ineligible for a grant are communities that are currently a Tree City USA, or those that have any component of the Tree City USA program such as a tree ordinance, tree board, inventory or management plan. Previous grant awardees are also ineligible.
These are the four categories: · Tree inventory · Tree management plan · Tree planting · Tree maintenance
Awards range from $11,000 to $75,000, depending on municipal population. Municipalities with populations of 65,000 or greater are eligible for grants up to $75,000. Towns with populations less than 65,000 are able to apply for up to $50,000. For inventory and management plan grants, no match is required. For planting and maintenance grants, there is a required 25% match.
These grants are made available through the Environmental Protection Fund to municipalities, nonprofits, soil and water conservation districts, school districts, community colleges, Indian nations or tribes, public benefit corporations, and public authorities.
A free webinar about the grant application process will be offered on Thursday, January 5th at 2 p.m. Registration is required.
To see the instructions and application, Go to the NYS Grants Gateway then go to Browse Opportunities > DEC > 2016 Urban and Community Forestry Grants Program (Round 13)- Tree Planting or Tree Maintenance Projects.
On our NYSUFC blog you can see examples of what the following municipalities and other entities did with their past cost-share grant dollars, excerpts from their application narratives, and advice they have to offer to new applicants:
The Village of Perry is another community that received Arbor Day 2016 funding through our Council in partnership with the DEC. Perry Tree Advisory Board Chair and Village Trustee Eleanor Jacobs sent in this report.
Securing the NYSUFC Arbor Day Community Grant was the first major accomplishment of the recently formed Village of Perry Tree Advisory Board (TAB). The group’s excitement at this achievement can’t be over-emphasized.
To implement the grant, the TAB worked with Village Parks Director Renee Koziel to select locations in the Village park to plant nine trees. The TAB selected the varieties of ginkgo, weeping larch, and Japanese white pine—and Ms. Koziel bought these from the Village’s tree supplier. The goals were to diversify tree plantings in the Village park, fill in spaces where trees were lacking, and plan for the future where trees may have to be removed.
The 2016 Arbor Day celebration in Pound Ridge (pop: app 5100), a town in Westchester County, took place over several days. An Arbor Day grant from the NYSUFC in partnership with the NYSDEC funded the purchase of a 3.5″-caliper, 12-foot-tall American beech and an ID plaque to go with it.
Pound Ridge Conservation and Tree Board Chair Carrie Sears says, “One aspect of our celebration that I am particularly proud of is the collaboration between the Town, the local Garden Club, the Land Conservancy, and Bartlett Tree Experts. And the Pound Ridge Highway and Maintenance Department continued to water the trees throughout a very long, dry summer.”
In this post, Sears recounts the Town’s celebration:
Thank you for funding the Pound Ridge 2016 Arbor Day celebration, which promoted an urban forestry program in the community in many ways. Our celebration included four different events and the planting of five native dogwoods, two American beech trees, and over 100 seedlings from the NYSDEC Saratoga Tree Nursery in different locations in the community. It also included a hands-on workshop, “Your Land and Our Water: Computer Modeling of Local Watersheds,” which allowed participants to see how trees make a difference in watershed protection.