Want your local politician to pay attention to an issue you care about? Take this tip from Omar Ahmad, the beloved former mayor of San Carlos, California: Send a monthly handwritten letter. Old-fashioned correspondence, he shows, is more effective than email, phone — or even writing a check. Listen for his four simple steps to writing a letter that works.
-from TEDTalks

Advice for letter writing advocacy was conveyed during a session with Nancy Wolf and Paul Kerzner at the March 6, 2015 NYC ReLeaf Workshop, COUNT TREES: Why Do a Tree Census?” The advocacy letter template will be useful to all New Yorkers seeking the most effective way to advocate for their urban forest. The template and its NYC-specific intro were written by NYS DEC Division of Lands and Forests Outreach Coordinator Nina Medakovich. 

City Council members are preparing the 2016 budget for New York City. With the Million Trees initiative planting its one millionth tree this summer, it’s time to ensure our city continues heading in the right direction by investing in our urban forest!

Please join us in advocating for New York City’s valuable trees by handwriting a letter to your city council member. Handwritten letters are eye-catching to elected officials, lend a personal touch to your cause, and demonstrate your support by making the extra effort.

In your letter, ask for:
·   $5 million for tree pruning, so trees on streets and parks grow correctly

·   $3 million for street tree stump remova, so spaces can be freed up for new trees

·   $40 million for capital funds to plant new street and park trees

You can look up your city council member here, and feel free to use the template below.

Advocate for Trees Letter template

Dear Council Member __________________,The Million Trees Initiative has had a profound effect on New York City’s urban forest. The addition of one million new trees to the city’s tree canopy has increased New Yorkers’ quality of life by beautifying our streets, enhancing storm water absorption, providing shade to cool our sidewalks, and improving air quality. It’s clear that trees in our city produce significant value.As this planting initiative comes to a successful close this summer, it’s important to think ahead to ensure the trees’ survival and keep the momentum going. Professional maintenance of the urban forest is crucial, as well as a long-term plan to continue improving it.

In order to accomplish this, the New York City Parks Department needs:
$5 million for pruning so the new trees grow correctly;
$3 million to remove old tree stumps to make way for new plantings; and,
$40 million to continue planting new street and park trees.

As you prepare the 2016 New York City Budget, I ask you to please keep these three funding numbers in mind.

The Million Trees Initiative was an ambitious endeavor and required hard work from the NYC Parks Department, NYRP, and all the volunteers and partners involved. Let’s not lose focus on sustaining this effort. Please allocate the necessary funds to the Parks Department, so we can look forward to a greener New York City.

Thank you,
(Your signature here)
(your address here)