THANKS TO FOREST ADVOCATES, like you, the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) program received an increase of federal funding for the FY2018. However, once again the Trump Administration’s budget proposed eliminating this important program. American Forests advocated for the creation of this program in 1990, but has been working for trees in our cities and towns for more than a century. We need your help informing Congress about the importance of urban forests, and this program specifically.
- The 138 million acres of urban and community forest lands in the U.S. affect more than 80 percent of the nation’s population.
- These forests are vital to creating and maintaining healthy, livable communities of all sizes by providing scientifically proven social, economic and environmental benefits to the people that live there.
- The collective value and benefits of community trees is more than 10 billion dollars nationwide.
The U&CF program directly assists state governments, nonprofit organizations and partners that manage and serve our nation’s forests. The program helps cities and towns across the nation prepare for storms and other disasters, contain threats from invasive pests and diseases, and improve tree infrastructure and forest cover. Properly managed community forests offer towns and municipalities a cost-effective way to maximize the economic, social and ecological benefits of their tree resources and avoid storm and disaster costs through preparedness and training.
In FY2017, U&CF reached more than 7,800 communities and more than 200 million Americans. U&CF is a high-impact program and a smart investment as federal support is often leveraged 2:1, or significantly more, by states and partner organizations. U&CF engages citizens in cities and towns, brings together diverse partners, public and private resources, and demonstrates that federal investment can have a huge and lasting impact on communities of all sizes.
Funding for this program must not be eliminated because the social, economic and environmental benefits to communities would be lost. Please help ensure FY 2019 levels are in line with the importance of this program by contacting your Congressional members. Let your voice be heard by visiting the American Forests Action Center at americanforests.org/TakeAction.
In March, Congress passed the fiscal year 2018 omnibus appropriations bill. Included in this bill was a comprehensive wildfire suppression funding solution that American Forests and many others have been working on for years. Thank you to our forest advocates who sent thousands of letters to their Congressional members over the years as it truly made a difference. Letting your elected officials know that you care about these issues is so important.
Rebecca Turner writes from Washington, D.C., and is American Forests’ senior director of programs and policy.