Rebecca Turner, Senior Director of Programs and Policy

American Forests and forest advocates from the Midwest meet on Capitol Hill. From left to right: David Forsell (Keep Indianapolis Beautiful), Scott Jamieson (Bartlett Tree Experts), Daniella Pereira (Openlands) and Lydia Scott (Morton Arboretum). Photo: Amanda Tai/American Forests

On February 28, I joined more than 50 urban forest advocates from the Sustainable Urban Forest Coalition (SUFC) on Capitol Hill to advocate for federal programs that support healthy forests in our towns and cities. SUFC, comprised of nearly 30 national organizations and of which American Forests sits on the steering committee, advances a unified urban forest agenda: “To integrate trees as a vital component of sustainable infrastructure for every community where people live, work and play.” American Forests staff attended 15 meetings that day, bringing SUFC folks from Florida, Maine, Illinois, Oregon and Washington, D.C., to visit their congressional members.

We asked for support for the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program (U&CF) and Forest Health Management Program, and we highlighted the importance of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership within the Environmental Protection Agency. In fiscal year 2012, the U&CF delivered technical, financial, educational and research assistance to 7,499 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and affiliated Pacific island nations. The Forest Health Management Program helps combat native and invasive pests impacting forests and trees in urban and rural areas, while the Urban Waters Federal Partnership works to revitalize urban waterways and the communities around them, focusing on underserved urban communities of all sizes by bringing state and local governments, nonprofits and community partners together.

These advocacy days are an important tool we use to ensure continued support for urban forests at the federal level.