Executive Director’s Report April 2020
Federal Policy Update – Attached you will see testimony by The Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition to the US Senate Committee on Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies regarding Urban and Community Forestry submitted on March 17, 2020. There was the House version earlier in March which I referenced in my last report. Also, attached here. We signed on as a supporter.
Forest Service Regional Update – A contract has been signed with Davey Resources to act in the role of subcontractor on our WUI-UCF grant with the Forest Service. The Grant has been extended through June 2022!
Forest Service Funding – an additional $150k has been added to this grant bringing it to $288,000.00!
Forest Service Research – no update
Cal Fire – Final grant submittals will be ready to go early next week. Due April 16th. You were asked to vote on Resolutions allowing the organization to receive the funds if the grants are awarded.
CUFAC – the meeting was held via GoToMeeting on March 26th and we continued to focus on the Strategic Plan for CalFire Urban and Community Forestry. We are getting closer and we are hoping to have the final draft for Chief Porter at the next meeting, tentatively planned for Jul 8th.
State Policy & Advocacy – So, as you all know, virtually everything has come to a halt around California due to the Coronavirus. That said, Pacific Policy Group, our consultant/lobbying firm, is working remotely as are Legislative Staff Members. We are working on our agenda, yet differently then is typical. The Governor is revising his State Budget and changing everything. Urban forestry had been zeroed out previously, but a Bond Measure was being floated to address all Natural Resources funding, including urban greening and urban forestry. Whether the Bond has any hope now for this Fall is debatable, but bonds tend to move the pain further done the road for tax-payers and Californians realize not everything can stop long-term, please see, pasted below, a letter from Tasha Newman. She and I are discussing and formulating a plan around this line of thinking.
Although we find ourselves in pretty uncertain times, Mark and I continue to work with the legislature on potential climate change resilience bonds: SB 45, AB 3256, and the Governor’s budget proposal.
We are hearing there could be a shift from the current bond proposals to focus more on job creation in response to job loss and other impacts of COVID-19. We should continue to advocate for funding for the Urban Forestry program under these circumstances. This program helps fund projects around the state at the city and county level. In addition, we should also look for opportunities to get additional shot hole borer funding.
We are hearing the legislature could shift its focus to only the most critical issues facing the state, one of those is fire prevention including forest management. We should work with the legislature, CALFIRE and others to make sure urban forestry is included in those discussions.
Even though our workplace has shifted, Mark and I continue to be in close touch with all of our state partners. We never know when an opportunity will present itself, but we want to be proactive and stay engaged to ensure that urban forestry is part of the discussion.
Please let me know if you have any questions or need additional information.
Tasha Newman, Partner
Pacific Policy Group, LLC
1121 L Street, Suite 700
Sacramento, CA 95814
CIRCLE Projects (Cap & Trade Funding) – CIRCLE 2.0 and the High Speed Rail Project – CIRCLE 3.0 – wrapped up at the end of March 2020. We have till the end of April to compile all final reports and invoicing and are in process on these things now.
Cool Parks Program – All plantings for Spring 2020 are postponed, due to the COVID-19. It appears all will be rescheduled for the Fall 2020, we have till 2022 on this grant so there is a lot of flexibility to meet obligations. Meanwhile we are planning for the future.
City Forest Renewal – Work has begun. Advance payment finally arrived (after 6 months!) from CALFIRE and checks are going out.
2020 Conference – No updates. Would be happy to hear suggestions for alternatives to an in-person conference for 2020, or other creative opportunities. As it stands, I am waiting to the end of April to refocus on this.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) was installed at the office, on my personal laptop and on the office laptop, which Morgan, our bookkeeper, has at home with her along with boxes of files, so work continues. I have run to the office a few times to do something that I’m not able to complete at home. And that’s ok, because it is close and no one else is at all in the vicinity. I do miss my office chair! This stiff wooden dining room chair is torture!
County of Marin – I filed the annual tax-exempt status forms this week electronically. Always an exercise in “what the heck do they mean?!” I expect if they are unhappy, I will hear from them!
Our Business Line of Credit and our Debit Card have both been hacked in the past two weeks. Wells Fargo was on the job and shut it all down. New cards are pending.
I have submitted the initial forms for the Paycheck Protection Program via Wells Fargo, our bank. My sense is we will not qualify as we are fully funded, but I think it best to pursue in the event that something occurs that we can’t anticipate. Both the US Forest Service, and CalFire are honoring the grant commitments, though CalFire says payments may take longer. I smile because they already take way too long.
I have plans to expand our written policies to include disasters. If anyone has policies at your workplace that you’d care to share, I would welcome them.
I’m gradually converting my guest room to an office space, planning on moving the work in there and away from my dining room table, as time allows.
Please feel free to reach out for a chat if anything is on your mind.
Please be well; stay healthy and strong!