Save Our Urban Forests: Write a Letter to the Editor

LTE This week, please consider writing a letter to the editor of your town and/or region’s papers about the importance of urban forestry funding.

Check your paper’s letter to the editor guidelines for length and how to submit (it’s usually simple and straightforward–and editors are eager for well-written letters!)

Here’s sample text from a letter that was published widely in the Hudson Valley. Feel free to take content from it for your letter. Here are some more urban forestry facts you can draw from.

Esteemed Editor:

Defend, Don’t Defund, the Forests in Which We Live

City, town, and suburban neighborhoods that are pleasant to walk or drive through—what is one thing they tend to have in common? The presence of mature trees. We can thank the science and practice of urban forestry for that. Urban environments are those that have been significantly altered by human activity. Eighty percent of Americans live in the urban forest; by 2050, ninety percent of us are projected to be.

Trees make our urban environments livable. They provide beauty, psychological comfort, and energy-saving shade; they calm traffic; they take massive amounts of carbon dioxide out of the air and sequester it as carbon in their wood; their canopies slow down stormwater runoff, which takes the strain off of expensive municipal drainage systems; they are proven to increase property values; and they provide food and shelter for wildlife.

These benefits are monetarily quantifiable. In the Northeast, a large tree provides $5,870 in environmental and other benefits over its lifetime, a nearly 440-percent return on investment. Nationwide, the collective value of community trees for all the services they provide exceeds $10 billion.

An analysis in our region in 2013 yielded interesting results in Red Hook, Beacon, and Cold Spring. A team trained in i-Tree, a peer-reviewed inventory and value assessment software, found that there are 450 trees on public land in Red Hook that provide $70,661 in annual benefits, or $157.02 per tree per year. They found that Beacon has 855 street trees providing $109,304 in annual benefits, and in Cold Spring, they found there are 437 trees yielding $56,719 in annual benefits.

The President’s proposed federal budget would defund the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry program. This would end the program that provides technical, financial, research, and educational services to local government, nonprofit organizations, community groups, educational institutions, and tribal governments. This would cost America much more than it would save. Please call your representative in the House to let him or her know how important urban and community forestry funding is to you.

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