WHY WE ADVOCATE
(And you should too!)

BACK STORY

Did you know that the California Urban Forests Council is celebrating our 50th birthday? Isn’t that amazing? And for a significant portion of that time we have supported advocacy efforts on the local, regional and statewide level.

Much has happened in California during that time in the urban forestry arena, especially in the past several years – which has moved our industry light years ahead. Much credit should go to those who had the inspiration and vision to lay the groundwork for us all to participate over the years. They deserve our endless thanks.

Fast forward to recent years, where we, along with other statewide organizations, advocacy groups, partners, elected officials and much-appreciated sponsors continue to make the case for the benefits of healthy tree canopies in towns and cities across California, and significantly help to move the needle further on education, awareness, and funding opportunities.

The benefits of trees can’t be overstated, something most of you fully embrace, but the need for more support through policy changes and funding opportunities continues to change and grow.

Community trees are under threat from multiple consecutive years of drought and impactful messaging recommending reduction in landscape water use. Conservation is vital, and properly watering trees is part of maintaining vitality – maintaining healthy communities for healthy people, and can be done affordably and appropriately. Replacing a lawn is one thing, replacing a tree and its environmental services takes decades. As well, numerous invasive pests have permeated our urban forests and are a significant threat to tree canopies across the State. The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer is the latest poster-child, showing that we need to be agile and move quickly responding to threats as they are discovered or experience the costly consequences.

Can you imagine a great neighborhood without trees? We can’t. It’s a simple truth that great neighborhoods have character and infrastructure services rooted in trees, parks and green spaces. Sometimes, the best solutions don’t have to be new, complicated or expensive. Once people see what can grow when we simply Invest From the Ground Up, we can begin making decisions that help our communities thrive, our local businesses flourish and the place we live feel even more like home.

What will the next 50 years bring? With your action and involvement, we can guide the focus together and find out. Telling your story is the most powerful thing you can do!

So….

What’s been happening, what’s at stake, why you are important and where we need your help!

Right now – California Climate Investments – the CAL FIRE Urban and Community Forestry Program maximizes the benefits of trees and related vegetation. The program supports the goals of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 to reduce greenhouse gases, and provides environmental services and cost-effective solutions to urban communities and local agencies. All projects must maintain a net reduction of established greenhouse gas emissions levels as calculated by the Air Resources Board’s methodology and testing. CAL FIRE has received $52.8 Million in Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds since 2014 which, through their grant program, has been distributed across the State to plant and care for trees in disadvantaged communities and supporting management and planning for cities. Efforts by us, and many others, are underway now in support of additional funding through this year’s legislative session and budgeting process.

Discussions in both the Assembly and on the Senate side are underway now at the California Capitol on funding various natural resources programs through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds – your call to your local legislators telling them you want to see urban and community forestry included in the budget package goes a long way to make this happen for communities across California. We and others are advocating for this actively, but the elected officials respond best from their voters! You have the power!

Here are links to websites where you can find your elected officials: California Senators and Assembly Members

Right now – The “Yes on 68 – Stand Up for California Campaign!”  PROPOSITON 68 – ON THE BALLOT JUNE 5TH

There is a ballot measure in the upcoming election in support of funding improvements to safe water and ground water supply, new parks in disadvantaged communities along with parks facilities improvements, conserving and protecting natural lands and addressing climate change and urban forestry (which will receive at a minimum of $15 million!). This is important to all Californians and our environment and to further urban forestry opportunities for communities.

Right now – California Proposition 70 – A Vote Requirement to Use Cap-and-Trade Revenue Amendment – ON THE BALLOT JUNE 5TH

Please think about this one. If this proposition passes it will be additionally difficult to release the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds each year (and there is always enormous horse trading going on the Senate and Assembly sides to get this accomplished). Currently, to finalize the distribution of these funds, only a majority vote is needed. If this passes a ¾ vote threshold will be required – making it quite difficult to get these funds out into the community where they are needed and significant compromises will have to be made potentially opening up these funds to non-greenhouse gas reduction projects. This is the fund that brings dollars to CAL FIRE’s urban and community forestry program then out to you.

Advocacy Accomplishments of Note

THE REAUTHORIZATION OF THE URBAN FORESTRY ACT OF 1978 – via legislation carried by San Diego’s Congresswoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher passed in 2017, amendments to statute supported updates addressing tree care and maintenance, climate adaptation, pest issues, storm water management, plus social equity, and more. The Urban Forestry Program is no longer in jeopardy of being eliminated and is now a requirement for CAL FIRE to continuously operate.

We are looking for you!

If you know anyone, or are someone who was involved in urban forestry in California in those early years, please let us know. We would love to talk to you and get you story! Email us

Finally, for today, we are looking for blog contributors relating to trees, community, science, equity, water, etc., etc. If you would like to contribute, please be in touch. We will share your stories out to our list! Click here to get in touch.

Thank you for helping to grow great neighborhoods,

Nancy J. Hughes
Executive Director