During the 2014 Legislative Session, ACTrees will advocate on behalf of:
- USDA Forest Service Urban & Community Forestry Program
- Urban Forestry Research included in Forest and Rangeland Research
- Urban Waters Federal Partnership and Forest Health Protection
- Wildfire Suppression Spending
- TREES Act and Energy Conservation
- Urban Forests and Climate Change
New legislation may arise during the course of the year. Green infrastructure for wet weather management, urban revitalization, jobs, and energy savings will continue to be key drivers. Subscribe to the ACTrees newsletter to receive “Action Alerts” about new advocacy issues.
1. USDA Forest Service Urban & Community Forestry Program
ACTrees recommends FY15 funding for the US Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) Program be allocated at no less than FY12 enacted levels of $31.3 million. The President’s FY 2015 proposal for U&CF is $23.7 million, a 16% reduction from the FY 2014 enacted level.
Urban forests are vital to creating and maintaining healthy, livable communities of all sizes, and provide quantifiable ecosystem benefits to over 93% of U.S. residents who live in micro– and metropolitan areas. In FY 2013, the U&CF program delivered technical and financial assistance to 7,292 communities and nearly 198 million people—over 60 percent of the U.S. population.
2. Urban Forestry Research included in Forest and Rangeland Research
ACTrees recommends FY15 funding for Forest and Rangeland Research, which includes Urban Forestry Research, be allocated at no less than $298 million, reflecting a funding level for basic forest research at $226 million, consistent with FY 2014, and funding for Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) at $72 million.
Urban Forestry Research provides baseline information, new technologies and tools for communities to map and examine conditions and trends in their urban forests, such as the i-Tree program. In addition, Urban Forestry Research has helped us understand the amazing benefits of urban trees, such as carbon capture, stormwater interception, human health, air pollution mitigation, and avoided infrastructure costs.
3. Forest Health Protection
In partnership with the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition, ACTrees supports no less than FY 2012 funding levels of $111 million (of which $48 million was directed to cooperative lands) in FY 2015 for the USDA Forest Service Forest Health Management Program.
Exotic pests and invasive species are among the greatest threats to urban forests. Trees in our towns and cities are at risk from non-native insects and diseases such as the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle. Non-native pests already cost city governments $2 billion each year to remove and replace trees they have killed. Homeowners in these communities pay another $1 billion per year to remove dead trees from their own properties. The substantial loss of trees in our communities also impacts the quality of life and property values. Funding for the Forest Health Program supports activities related to prevention, suppression, and eradication of insects, diseases, and plants as well as conducting forest health monitoring through pest surveys.
4. Wildfire Suppression Spending
ACTrees supports the approach proposed in the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, which would enable the Forest Service and Department of Interior to access “disaster” funds for wildfire suppression through a budget cap adjustment, similar to the mechanism used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
ACTrees is one of a large and diverse group of organizations–160 in all–that signed onto a February 10th letter to Congress to support the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act. This legislation is a promising approach to manage the increasing costs of wildfire suppression without impacting other important programs within the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Interior, including Urban and Community Forestry.
5. TREES Act and Energy Conservation
ACTrees supports The Residential Energy and Economic Savings Act (TREES Act, HR 1807), which authorizes a Department of Energy grant program to assist retail power providers with the establishment or continuation of residential tree planting programs.
The purpose of the program is to help residents plant trees in strategic locations to help reduce energy demand, sequester carbon, and reduce stormwater runoff and soil erosion. The TREES Act is well positioned to be included in broader legislation related to energy conservation or energy efficiency. In addition, the U.S. Forest Service is continuing to focus on strategic tree planting for energy conservation.
6. Urban forests and Climate Change
ACTrees and SUFC are advocating for utilizing urban forests to address climate change.
The Forest Climate Working Group (FCWG) included urban forestry as recommendation 6 in its 2014 platform (pages 38–41), using some of the information provided by ACTrees and SUFC. ACTrees will continue to work on having urban forestry more prominently included in the Obama Administration’s climate change plans.
Make Your Voice Heard
Contact your elected officials in Congress NOW to let them know that these programs and initiatives are important to YOU and make a difference for healthier, more livable communities IN YOUR DISTRICT and nationwide.