Washington, DC (April 1, 2014) – Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees) and its partners in the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition are working together to advocate for strong funding for the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) Program. We are requesting $31.3 million for U&CF in FY 2015, a level last enacted by Congress in FY 2012.
To help with this advocacy, ACTrees members can contact the offices of their Congressional members AS SOON AS POSSIBLE and ask them to submit a “programmatic request” to the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee for funding the Forest Service’s U&CF program at $31.3 million in FY 2015. The deadline for U.S. Representatives to submit “programmatic requests” is April 4 and the deadline for U.S. Senators is April 9.
You may use the following talking points to inform Congressional staff how to justify the request:
Urban Forests are vital:
- Urban forests are vital to creating and maintaining healthy, livable communities of all sizes. There are more than 100 million acres of urban forest lands in the U.S. Trees growing in populated areas are a key component of community infrastructure and provide proven benefits to the more than 80% of Americans who live there.
- Urban forests enhance air and water quality, reduce energy use, increase property values, and provide quantifiable health and wellness benefits to people. Creating and maintaining a healthy tree canopy also creates a substantial demand for greencollar jobs in a sector poised for rapid growth.
Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) program is important:
- In 2013, the Forest Service’s U&CF program delivered technical, financial, educational, and research assistance to 7,292 communities and nearly 198 million people, over 60% of the U.S. population.
- The recent Consolidated Appropriations Act provided $28 million for U&CF in FY 2014. This level is significantly less than the U&CF program has received in recent years, while urban forestry needs are increasing, as noted in the Forest Service strategic plan and other strategic assessments.
- ACTrees and the SUFC urge Congress to fund the U&CF Program at no less than the FY12 level of $31.3 million.
If you have questions about contacting your Members of Congress, please contact ACTrees staff at 202-291-8733.
Members of Congress who do not sit on the appropriations subcommittees are eligible to make “programmatic requests” prior to the Interior Subcommittees developing their versions of the Interior Appropriations bill. The Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives is accepting “programmatic requests” from U.S. Representatives until April 4th (see instructions for U.S. Representatives on submitting programmatic requests). The Senate’s Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee is accepting “programmatic requests” from Senators until April 9th.
Recent Advocacy and Upcoming ACTrees Congressional Testimony
ACTrees worked with SUFC partners to organize a number of visits with Congressional members on March 25th, urging those members to submit programmatic requests for the U&CF program.
In addition, ACTrees is preparing testimony on FY 2015 funding levels for the Forest Service’s U&CF Program and urban forestry research, which Dave Forsell, President of ACTrees Board of Directors and President of ACTrees member organization Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, will present before the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee on April 10th. A number of SUFC partner organizations will also be testifying at the April 10th hearing.
ACTrees and its members will continue advocating for urban forests this spring during the annual ACTrees Policy Summit, taking place May 7-8. Learn more about the Policy Summit and how you can get involved.