Washington, DC (April 2, 2014) – U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell testified on Wednesday, April 2nd before the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on the President’s FY 2015 budget. Chief Tidwell reflected on three focal areas within a total proposed Forest Service budget of $4.77 billion: restoring resilient landscapes, building thriving communities, and managing wildland fires.
While the agency’s Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) Program received strong recognition within the “building thriving communities” section of his testimony, and the President’s $1 billion Climate Resiliency Fund proposes an additional $25 million for the U&CF Program, the traditional budget for the U&CF Program was reduced by 16% from FY 2014.
This presents challenges for urban and community forestry advocates to work with the Forest Service and Congress to ensure that strong funding comes through for U&CF in FY 2015.
The agency’s news release on the Chief’s testimony gives significant attention to the Urban and Community Forestry Program:
“Over 83 percent of America’s citizens now live in urban areas. For most Americans, their main experience of the outdoors comes from their local tree-lined streets, greenways, and parks, not to mention their own backyards. Fortunately, America has over 100 million acres of urban forests, an area the size of California. Through the Urban and Community Forestry Program, the Forest Service has benefited more than 7,000 communities, home to 196 million Americans, helping people reap the benefits they get from trees, including energy conservation, flood and pollution control, climate change mitigation, and open spaces for improved quality of life.” (Forest Service news release)
The Chief’s testimony also discusses President Obama’s proposed $1 billion Climate Resilience Fund, recognizing U&CF as one of three Forest Service programs that would receive increased funding if the Fund were approved by Congress.
The U&CF Program would receive an additional $25 million through the Fund to maintain, restore, and improve urban forests, helping to lessen urban heat islands and address other climate change impacts. Read Chief Tidwell’s complete testimony.
While the Chief’s testimony and the President’s proposed Climate Resilience Fund hold promise for urban and community forestry, the FY 2015 budget proposal for the U&CF Program is $23.7 million, a 16% decrease from the FY 2014 budget level enacted by Congress, $28 million. (See pages 4-1 and 4-40 of the FY 2015 Budget Justification for the U.S. Forest Service)
Learn more about how you can take action to ensure federal funding for Urban & Community Forestry.