With Congress in Recess, Time to Connect with your Representative

Washington, DC (August 13, 2013) – The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have departed for their August break, with most headed back to their home districts until they reconvene September 6th. Take advantage of this opportunity to educate your members of Congress about the economic and environmental value of urban and community forests—meet with them, invite them to a tree planting, and show them what you’ve accomplished.

Capitol Hill July 1, 2013If there isn’t an immediate opportunity to invite elected officials to your local events, arrange a meeting with Congressional Representatives and their staff at their home office. Encourage them to take action on the 2012 Farm Bill, support the TREES Act, and push forward any state funding that directly supports your urban forests.

The Farm Bill continues to be an important piece of legislation as many U.S. Forest Service programs, including the Urban and Community Forestry Program, are part of the Farm Bill. The 2012 Farm Bill, which expired last year, is still in limbo. What’s in the 2012 Farm Bill? Lots, but critical to ACTrees members and program partner organizations, the Farm Bill provides funding for conservation programs that affect land, water and soil use, and support for forestry programs managed by the USDA Forest Service. Learn more about “Why the Farm Bill Matter for Trees.” [link to Gerry’s article].

The Farm Bill is currently operating under 2011 budget, with reductions subject to the sequestration rulings, and is the source of funding for state and city foresters nationwide. Funding moves from the Federal government to state and cities, and eventually to benefit ACTrees member and program partner organizations. Click-through to Wonkblog for today’s Farm Bill details.

In April, with guidance from ACTrees and ACTrees member organizations, Congresswoman Doris Matsui introduced The Residential Energy and Economic Savings (TREES) Act, H.R.1807. Now we’re working to introduce a companion bill that would move similar legislation forward in the Senate. The TREES Act would establish a grant program to assist utilities to develop and operate energy conservation programs that encourage residential tree planting and provide incentives for utilities to partner with nonprofit organizations.

Take action now to schedule a personal meeting with your local representative to share your successes and concerns. Check out the Related Resources for background information, talking points, and other tools.

Related Resources:
Contact your elected officials in Congress
Five Tips for Building Relationships with Elected Officials
Farm Bill Information Sheet and Talking Points
Going to Your Capital: 2013 ACTrees and SUFC Public Policy Agenda
ACTrees and SUFC Policy Leave Behind
ACTrees Advocates to Introduce Companion Trees Act in the Senate