It’s the beginning of a new term for President Obama.
Perhaps you’re like me and stayed up late to watch the election coverage last night. In Washington, D.C., it’s the cause for many a social gathering, including a huge crowd in front of the White House that I got to be smack dab in the middle of! After yesterday’s frenzy, it’s hard to imagine things ramping up even more. But now that we know who we’ll be working with, it’s important to look forward and talk about our priorities for the next four years.
Over the past year, American Forests advocated for several programs and bills that benefit our nation’s forests — both public and private, and urban and rural. These efforts included visits with congressional staffers on the Hill to discuss the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), rallying with farmers and landowners to pass a new Farm Bill and providing recommendations for fiscal year 2013 appropriations. While there have been plenty of roadblocks in getting Congressional action on many of our priorities, our advocacy efforts are aimed at continuing to keep Congress informed about our priorities. And we made some progress. CFLRP received bipartisan support with Congress ensuring full funding for the program and the addition of 10 new projects. It’s important that we continue to advocate for these programs and ramp up our efforts even more with the new Congress coming in.
There are soon going to be some new faces on Capitol Hill, which means congressional committee memberships may shift around as well. But rather than viewing this as an obstacle, I view it as an opportunity to reach out to new members and get them onboard. Let’s talk with them about how they can help forest ecosystems and, in doing so, help the people in their communities. Let’s educate them about the programs and legislation that will fund forest restoration work, create green jobs and help our environmental future. By starting the conversation, members of Congress will already be aware of the issues and know how to vote as a voice for our nation’s forests in the year to come!