Washington, DC (December 18, 2006)- At the state level, partners are anticipating continued pressure on the federal budget for urban & community forestry, which has suffered five years of steady cuts. The outlook for next year’s FY 2008 federal budget is also poor. State urban forestry programs, in an effort to grow, are looking to state governors and general assemblies for budget support.
States such as California and New York are moving forward to protect and enhance urban forestry programs through state legislation. Pennsylvania and Maryland also operate voluntary and regulatory programs that are replenishing urban tree cover in their states.
New York State’s urban and community forestry program received annual appropriations of $500,000 each in 2005 and 2006 from the New York State Legislature. Funds have come from the State’s Environmental Protection Fund. In 2007, the advocacy coalition for this effort is asking for $5 million–$1 million for its annual state-wide program and $4 million in special assistance for western New York, which suffered an early snowstorm while leaves were still on the trees. Thousands of trees will need to be replaced in the region. The state’s urban forest council has been a key player in raising awareness for U&CF in Albany.
On November 11th, California voters passed another $20 million dedicated to urban forestry as part of a multi-billion dollar water and park bond referendum. California’s state U&CF program will receive a significant share of support from Proposition 84, which includes a total of $90 million for Urban Greening and Joint Use Projects. California ReLeaf, a statewide nonprofit, has been a forceful advocate for the state’s urban forest program growth.
Not long ago, Pennsylvania, with strong support from its governor, created TreeVitalize, a program to plant trees in the Philadelphia metropolitan region. While urban tree canopy may seem like a local concern, the state has recognized it as a regional issue of state-wide importance, awarding $3 million in state budget assistance to fuel the reforestation effort through 2007. TreeVitalize operates as a partnership, providing quality, large-caliper trees to neighborhood improvement organizations (such as ACT member UC Green), that engage residents in hands-on planting and care.
Few states are pursuing regulatory approaches. In Maryland, the state’s Forest Conservation Act continues to make a major impact on quality of life by regulating tree preservation and mitigation on all development sites one acre or greater in size. Nearly 80,000 acres of trees have been retained on developed sites due to the act, which has been in effect for more than ten years. As a result, the state has replaced or protected twice as many acres of trees as it has lost to development.
California – see Proposition 84
Maryland Forest Conservation Act
Pennsylvania’s TreeVitalize Program