Washington, DC (October 25, 2006)- House and Senate appropriations staff are reportedly now working, pre-conference, to develop joint budgets for the FY 2007 federal budget for Urban and Community Forestry and other key Forest Service programs. For advocates, the biggest challenge right now is to make an impact in the Senate. From what we hear, Senate members generally have not been vocal in their support for the Urban and Community Forestry program, with the exception of a small handful of lawmakers.
The next several weeks are a key time to reach out to your Senators and ask for their support for the U&CF program. If you have a Senate member who has been a close ally to your organization or has been a friend to urban forests in your state, please ask your Senator to contact the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies to indicate their support for this critical budget line item.
A general letter from your Senator expressing support for the “USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program” and continued support for “urban forest research conducted by the USDA Forest Service Research Program” is needed to ensure that the budget for the program is not cut further. Congress is expected to pass the Interior budget shortly after the November elections.
Your Senator should direct his or her letter of support to Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT), Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies, and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Ranking Member for the subcommittee.
Any member of the Senate Appropriations Committee is particularly influential in this process. You may check to see if your Senator serves on this committee by visiting the Senate Appropriations Committee.
We encourage you to reach out to your Senators to make them aware about urban forest issues in your state. All states receive financial and technical assistance funds from the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program. In addition, Forest Service research on urban forests has generated knowledge, tools, and public policies that benefit all states. Your state urban forest coordinator can provide you with a fact sheet about how federal funds from this program are being utilized in your state.
Your voice is important to maintaining continued federal investments in urban forest programs for your state. If you have questions about strategy or how to approach your Senator, feel free to contact:
Alice Ewen Walker
Alliance for Community Trees
Read Senator Coleman’s example letter of support.