California Trees Summer 2012

California Trees Summer 2012

Reproducing and distributing material from this newsletter is encouraged, provided credit is given to the author and California Trees.

[sws_green_box box_size="280"]IN THIS ISSUE [/sws_green_box]
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The Future of Urban Forests in California's Cap & Trade Market

by Jane Braxton Little Wherever trees grow, they are quietly performing a miracle. By capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it as carbon in their branches, trunks and roots, trees are helping the planet adapt to climate change. From the vast forests that carpet northern Russia and the Amazon Basin to the foliage that shades city streets, trees are playing a vital role in stabilizing Earth’s climate. Read the full article... [/sws_grey_box] [sws_grey_box box_size="410"]

Network Profile: CityTrees

by Emily Bartnikowski “We started out ten years ago, and through thousands of volunteers and even more volunteer hours, CityTrees has grown into a tradition,” says Jack Stephens, co-founder and current secretary of CityTrees in Redwood City. CityTrees, while relying on “tight integration and support” from the city council and public works department, isn’t officially affiliated with Redwood City. Read the full article... [/sws_grey_box] [sws_grey_box box_size="410"]

State Legislative Update

Cap and Trade Reigns; Water Bond Poors California’s State Legislature has started working in earnest towards creating a suite of measures that would mandate how revenues generated from cap and trade offset credit auctions will be spent now and in the years to come. Read the full article... [/sws_grey_box] [sws_grey_box box_size="410"]

Carbon Offsets & the Urban Forest

June 6, 2012 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Davis, California Find out more... [/sws_grey_box]  
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Cities Turn Public Tree Care Over to Residents

By Suzanne Hurt Some cash-strapped California cities have turned street tree maintenance over to residents. It’s a sign of the severe economic times, as a few cities with continuing revenue shortfalls are requiring property owners to care for trees growing along city streets. Yet no one from homeowners and tree advocates to city arborists and state urban foresters seems to think privatizing street tree care is a good idea. Read the full article... [/sws_grey_box] [sws_grey_box box_size="410"]

ReLeaf Network Corner

  • Welcoming new members - City of Lompoc Beautification & Appearance Commission
  • Grants Available Now
  • One Vote = 114 Trees
  • Partners in Community Forestry Conference
Read the full article... [/sws_grey_box] [sws_grey_box box_size="410"]

Polictics Likely to Stall Policy at Federal Level in 2012

As the 2012 Presidential election draws closer, the Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate will likely be focused on priorities other than pressing legislative matters that have spilled over from 2011. Though a continuing resolution passed late last year will support the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, other important items are still on the table in Washington without any clear direction as to what may become of them in 2012. Read the full article... [/sws_grey_box]
 

The Future of Urban Forests in California’s Cap & Trade Market

By Jane Braxton Little
Wherever trees grow, they are quietly performing a miracle. By capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it as carbon in their branches, trunks and roots, trees are helping the planet adapt to climate change. From the vast forests that carpet northern Russia and the Amazon Basin to the foliage that shades city streets, trees are playing a vital role in stabilizing Earth’s climate. [caption id="attachment_4421" align="alignleft" width="378" caption="In the Santa Monica Greenhouse Gas Tree Planting Project, Calocedrus decurrens (Incense Cedar) were planted in between mature Washington robusta (Fan Palms)."]Incense Cedars planted between Fan Palms[/caption] At a time when carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions (GHGs) are melting glaciers and elevating sea levels, scientists recognize the power of trees to slow global warming. Proposals for harnessing their ability to sequester carbon were part of the international negotiations in 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was created, and again in 2009, when world leaders met in Copenhagen to design a new international climate treaty. California took a lead internationally several years ago to reduce GHG emissions throughout the state. The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 empowered the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to launch a comprehensive program that develops regulations and market mechanisms that will ultimately lead to a 25-percent GHG reduction statewide by 2020. In the six years since the Act (commonly referred to as AB 32) was passed into law, CARB has worked to implement mandated components that include adopting a regulation requiring the mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions, and convening an Environmental Justice Advisory Committee. However, CARB’s most ambitious endeavor in AB 32 implementation, and consequently the component most relevant to statewide urban forestry activities, is the development of California’s Greenhouse Gas Cap-and-Trade Program. The program is a core element of the Global Warming Solutions Act and covers major sources of GHG emissions in the State such as refineries, power plants, industrial facilities, and transportation fuels. Today, the role of urban forestry within this program is somewhat uncertain. However, efforts underway in Sacramento that would directly impact two key components of the cap-and-trade program may translate into opportunities for urban forests to significantly contribute to the statewide effort to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels.

Urban Forestry on the Frontline: CARB’s Compliance Offset Program

As part of its larger cap-and-trade program, the Air Resources Board developed a Compliance Offset Program in which GHG emission reductions or sequestered carbon that meets regulatory criteria generates CARB offset credits. Each CARB offset credit is equal to one metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) and can only be quantified using a CARB approved compliance offset protocol. Forests and urban forests are among the tools recognized by CARB for offsetting greenhouse gases. As such, protocols exist for calculating the amount of carbon stored through tree planting and reforestation, improved forest management, and avoiding the loss of trees through conversion of forestlands to other uses. Qualified projects can earn carbon credits, which they can then sell to firms emitting more than their allowed amounts of greenhouse gases. Since its implementation, the Compliance Offset Program has attracted 64 forest projects designed to precisely measure the amounts of carbon dioxide they remove from the atmosphere and store. Five projects have gone through the rigorous verification process and are registered with the Climate Action Reserve, a national non-profit that insures their integrity and financial value in the U.S. carbon market. Registration makes these forests eligible to receive income from sources that emit more carbon dioxide than state regulations allow. The Van Eck Forest in Humboldt County, the first to be registered, has sold 185,000 metric tons of carbon offsets – the equivalent of taking 123,000 cars off the road for a year. The owners have received around $2 million for the stored carbon. Like their wildland cousins, California’s urban forests also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With a single tree capable of absorbing as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year (or more than one ton over a 40-year period), the tremendous potential for urban forestry as a compliance offset tool is evident. At around $20 per metric ton, the estimate state officials used to model the program, California’s urban forests currently store carbon worth over $8 million a year. Despite these promising possibilities, urban forests have had a slow and difficult initiation into the world of calculated carbon storage. [caption id="attachment_4422" align="alignleft" width="378" caption="24-inch Monterey Pines (Pinus radiata) were planted along the southern boundary of Santa Monica to create a "green border" for the city and to increase canopy coverage in the southern part of the city."]Green border for Santa Monica[/caption] The primary problem is funding, says Ray Tretheway, executive director of the Sacramento Tree Foundation. The current protocols for urban forestry cost the project sponsor around $200 per ton of carbon dioxide stored. On the current market, a ton of stored carbon dioxide is worth around $14. "There’s not a planner in the state of California that wouldn’t want trees as a mitigation source for climate change. Right now the protocols are just too restrictive and too costly," Tretheway says. But potential for change is on the horizon. Dr. Greg McPherson, a research forester with the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban Ecosystems and Social Dynamics program (formerly the Center for Urban Forestry Research), recognizes the obstacles to starting urban forestry carbon offset projects under the current protocols. He has proposed an alternative that reduces some of the uncertainties and recognizes urban forests’ unique assets. Among them is a proposal that links carbon storage to increasing urban tree canopy cover rather than planting individual tree sites. It would make current tree cover for a city or region the baseline, with increases to the canopy translated into equivalent amounts of additional carbon storage. It’s a more holistic approach that encourages canopy conservation and recognizes the full spectrum of urban tree management, according to McPherson. The McPherson proposal and the idea of using urban forests to qualify cities for carbon credits under the Climate Action Reserve is exciting, says John Melvin, state urban forester with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “Urban trees behave differently. If they got credit for all the work they are doing, projects would pencil out better,” Melvin says. Tretheway is also enthusiastic about the proposed changes: “This is a fantastic opportunity to not only fight climate change but also find a new economic incentive for urban forests.”

Urban Forestry on the Back End: Cap & Trade Allowance Auction Revenues

No matter how compelling the reasons to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, California will not achieve its ambitious goals through sheer altruism. The Compliance Offset Program is a great incentivizing tool, but must be complimented by another mechanism that motivates large-scale GHG reductions within the capped sectors identified by CARB. [sws_divider_top]
CARB’s solution involves the state-sanctioned auction of emission allowances – a market-based approach that is the core component to cap-and-trade. It involves a limit, or cap, on the amount of pollution that may be emitted. The cap is allocated to firms in the form of emissions allowances - the right to discharge a specific volume of the pollutant. Under AB 32, CARB limits the allowances and gradually reduces them in a phased program aimed at lowering all emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. During each phase of the program, all operations covered by the regulations are required to turn in allowances equal to their total greenhouse gas emissions. Operators that emit more GHGs than their allowances cover must buy permits from other firms whose operations are under their allowances. This transfer of permits is referred to as a trade. In effect, the buyer is paying a fee for polluting, while the seller is being rewarded for having reduced emissions. California’s first cap-and-trade compliance period begins on January 1, 2013, and is projected to raise significant funds for projects that reduce GHG emissions statewide. Through the Cap-and-Trade Program, CARB will issue carbon allowances for entities to trade on the open market. By issuing these allowances at quarterly auctions, the program will generate billions of dollars in state revenue. In the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the program is estimated to generate between $660 million and $3 billion. Over time, a total of 360 businesses at 600 locations throughout the state will begin participating in the auction, and by 2020, it is estimated that the program could generate $4 – $6.5 billion. This is where urban forestry can once again contribute to meeting AB 32 goals and objectives. Decision-makers in Sacramento are currently debating the best use of these new fiscal resources, with legislators seeking to move forward with multiple measures that share a common thread of ensuring the dollars generated from allowance auctions are utilized to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a manner consistent with AB 32 (see Legislative Update). Should this suite of measures or similar proposals meet with success at the State Capitol this year, the urban forestry funding landscape could be significantly enhanced in both the short and long-term future. Assembly Speaker John Perez (D – Los Angeles), and Assembly Appropriations Committee Chair Felipe Fuentes (D – Los Angeles) cite urban greening and forestry as engines for positive change in their respective bills moving forward on this subject. With California’s existing urban forests already sequestering 414,000 metric tons of carbon annually, it’s easy to imagine how future urban forestry projects could create the change legislators are seeking. Luckily, there’s plenty of room in California to plant more trees. Dr. McPherson and other scientists with the Urban Ecosystems program used aerial photography to estimate 242 million empty tree planting sites in California cities. The researchers have found that if 50 million urban trees were planted strategically then they could offset emissions of an estimated 6.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually – around 3.6 percent of the statewide goal. The landmark legislation that launched these programs has put California in the forefront of the effort to reduce greenhouse gases, but the climate change challenge California seeks to address has become even more pressing than when that legislation was enacted. “We must continue working together to create and use the whole array of tools we are going to need to successfully meet this challenge,” says Mary Nichols, chair of CARB. CARB has already recognized the role urban forestry can play through offsets as one of those tools. With the rest of the nation watching, California’s Governor and Legislature may continue this effort and include urban forestry as a qualified competitor for allowance auction revenues. With a proven track record and space to grow, California’s urban forests are ready to meet the challenge.[sws_grey_box box_size="410"]

The Greenhouse Gas Tree Planting Project: An Opportunity to Put Urban Forestry on the Compliance Offset Map

The urban forestry project that has come closest to registration by the Climate Action Reserve is in Santa Monica. The Greenhouse Gas Tree Planting Project is designed to plant 1,000 new trees in parkways along the boulevards of this city just west of Los Angeles. It was launched several years ago at about the same time city officials were writing a long-range urban forest master plan. Within months of the master plan’s adoption in December, nearly all of the 1,000 new trees were in the ground, says Walt Warriner, Santa Monica’s urban forester. His primary objective is to measure the removal and corresponding storage of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The Climate Action Reserve’s strict regulations require planting trees 16 feet apart and mapping the location of each one to demonstrate that it is in a new site. Warriner and his successors must record the growth of each tree over the next 100 years and report the results. City foresters are also responsible for reporting tree ownership and maintenance over the long term – “who does it and how often,” Warriner says. Once he has completed planting the mix of Torrey and Monterey pines, cedars and other broadleaf trees, Warriner calculates that they will sequester around 5,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide over 100 years. Even at $10 a ton, this would earn Santa Monica $500 a year. The city’s trees are already storing over 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide for an estimated value of $830,843, Warriner says. In addition, Santa Monica’s urban forest offsets roughly 21 million gallons of stormwater per rain event, a service worth over $38,000 to the city. Viewed in these monetary terms, urban forests assume the value of a public utility: They provide a public service that generates income for a municipality. Warriner’s goal is to create a pilot project that demonstrates the worth of the Santa Monica urban forest in a way that can be replicated in other communities. Selling credits on the open market for the carbon stored in street trees can provide a revenue stream that justifies urban forests beyond the intangible benefits already widely recognized, says Warriner. [/sws_grey_box] [caption id="attachment_4420" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Before: An open space adjacent to the I-10 freeway in Santa Monica."]Before: An open space adjacent to the I-10 freeway in Santa Monica.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4419" align="alignleft" width="324" caption="After: Eagle Scout planted 19 California Sycamores (Platanus racamosa) to green the space."]After: Eagle Scout planted 19 California Sycamores (Platanus racamosa) to green the space.[/caption]
 

Cities Turn Public Tree Care Over to Residents

By Suzanne Hurt
Some cash-strapped California cities have turned street tree maintenance over to residents. It’s a sign of the severe economic times, as a few cities with continuing revenue shortfalls are requiring property owners to care for trees growing along city streets. Yet no one from homeowners and tree advocates to city arborists and state urban foresters seems to think privatizing street tree care is a good idea. San Francisco is one of the latest cities to notify property owners of changes to public tree maintenance programs. “It’s the wrong direction to go. But it’s the essential way to go right now,” said Doug Wildman, Program Director with Friends of the Urban Forestin San Francisco. “The city cannot care for the trees they have under their belts right now and they know it.” San Jose, Manhattan Beach, and Santa Rosa also require homeowners and business owners to care for trees in the public right-of-way next to their property. Other cities are exploring the idea.

Severe Cuts to General Funds Cost Trees

The reason seems to be the same from city to city. Municipal tree care services have historically been paid for with money from cities’ general funds. The general fund is often the first place officials make cuts when struggling with how to balance a city budget with shrinking revenues. In San Francisco, budget cuts have pushed tree pruning schedules to every 10 to 12 years, rather than the optimum three to five years. San Jose property owners have been responsible for street tree care since 1951. But the city was able to prune trees every 10 to 15 years until 2008, when the tree crew got axed after continued budget shortfalls, said City Arborist Ralph Mize, adding that the city now has an estimated 243,450 street trees. San Francisco began a seven-year process to turn over responsibility for 23,700 street trees to private property owners in January. The city plans to continue maintaining 11,600 median and street trees. Private maintenance has always been required for two-thirds of the city’s estimated 105,000 street trees. But many property owners don’t know they’re responsible for the trees and maintenance isn’t done. Others may not hire certified arborists or prune trees to established standards, said city Urban Forester Carla Short.

The Real Cost of Turning Over Tree Care

“Even well-intentioned property owners can inadvertently damage a tree because they hire the wrong person. A lot of people don’t realize tree care is a specialized science,” she said. Our City Forest President Rhonda Berry says the same is true in San Jose. “The trees here are just hurting.There’s a lot of uninformed hacking away at trees being done by gardeners that don’t have the proper training. A lot of it is because of a lack of information. It’s not that they want to ruin their trees.” [sws_divider_top]  
State Urban Forester John Melvin said turning tree care over to property owners won’t save cities money in the long run. Homeowners won’t pay for tree care; they’ll remove trees or neglect them. The community will lose environmental benefits provided by trees, maintenance costs will rise and the city will be at risk for lawsuits from falling trees and branches, he said. “The city has an interest in those trees being healthy,” he said. Rose Epperson, Executive Director of the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, said the practice isn’t in urban forests’ best interest. “The urban forest relies on [consistent] care. To start down one path, and then have the maintenance practices drastically changed, could possibly change the longevity and the efficiency of the urban forests,” she said.

A Temporary Fix

Privatizing street tree care appears to be a temporary fix as cities search for better long-term solutions. San Jose and San Francisco, along with community-based tree advocate groups and other partners, are exploring funding mechanisms such as landscape assessment districts or other special assessments that could establish dedicated funding for municipal tree maintenance. The trick will be to convince property owners to get on board. “I think a big part of it is having a sort of wake-up call to the public about the importance of trees, and the necessity to find an avenue to fund our urban forests,” Wildman said. [caption id="attachment_4423" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="The City of San Francisco uses signs plastic wrapped to trees to remind property owners that tree maintenance has been transferred to them."]SF Tree Care Transfer Notice[/caption]  
 

California ReLeaf Network Member Profile: CityTrees

By Emily Bartnikowski
“We started out ten years ago, and through thousands of volunteers and even more volunteer hours, CityTreeshas grown into a tradition,” says Jack Stephens, co-founder and current secretary of CityTrees in Redwood City. CityTrees, while relying on “tight integration and support” from the city council and public works department, isn’t officially affiliated with Redwood City. “Trees have an amazing ability to do all the wonderful environmental things you hear about …but the other thing is that they’re a very easy community sell. There’s a great and broad range of folks that we’ve been able to talk into coming out on a Saturday morning to plant a tree,” says Stephens. [caption id="attachment_4409" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="A family plants a tree at a CityTrees event."]Family planting tree at a CityTrees event[/caption] CityTrees has planted over 2,600 trees exclusively with volunteer labor, donations, and grants. Eighty-eight percent of all monies received go to planting and education efforts. Stephens points out that this is a rare feat in the nonprofit sector these days, and it is only possible because of the -amazing-citizens of Redwood City. CityTrees takes time to carefully scout each proposed site, considering soil quality, sun, and irrigation before choosing from a variety of trees. “The planning stages take months, long enough that we talk about our families and you get to know the quirks [of the other volunteers], and you go out for wine and beer, and even though you may not see them for several months, you become close friends,” says Dave Hyman, current Chairman. He cites fellow board members among his best friends - an ever-broadening circle of volunteers who bring their own friends and family to events. [caption id="attachment_4414" align="alignleft" width="378" caption="A school group gathers to plant a tree in Redwood City."]CityTrees school group[/caption] A particular event illustrating the transcendent nature of their venture comes immediately to Hymans’ mind: a planting scheduled the week after September 11th terrorist attacks. “That week we had Muslims in burkas working with us. After everything in the press about our ‘perceived enemy’...and we all just started planting trees, and no one cared after the first hour. We all had a job to do.” The sense of community being fostered by CityTrees has proven to be a self-perpetuating cycle. Volunteers are able to point out trees they have planted to their friends and family. Local companies have used planting and pruning events as team-building exercises. Fraternities, scout troops, and churches have attended tree planting events in order to foster a sense of community within their own organizations. Such efforts enable residents to take pride and ownership of the health and aesthetics of Redwood City. Redwood High has a garden that CityTrees helped plant, forming a partnership that encourages high school students to get out and plant or prune with CityTrees, a cross-pollination of ages that Hyman claims: “keeps me young. Teaching these kids to use a hammer or shovel - a first for a lot of them - we’re teaching them real life skills...no matter what age, you get out in the sun and after a few hours you’ve planted eighteen, twenty trees.” [sws_divider_top] They gain an appreciation for nature in their own community, and are able to brag to their friends as they gallivant around town: “I planted that tree!”CityTrees works to foster community in new ways with planting events like a Prune and Pub, which is exactly what it sounds like: volunteers meeting to prune trees on a CityTrees site and then retiring afterward for a pint at a local pub. [caption id="attachment_4411" align="alignleft" width="378" caption="CityTrees volunteers proudly represent their organization."]CityTrees volunteers[/caption] They’ve also put a new spin on the tree walk: volunteers stroll through the town and note the growth of the trees they’ve planted. Then an arborist answers questions and hands out trivia. There is also the annual Spring Cleanup, in conjunction with Earth Day, that includes time to mingle over a continental breakfast before splitting up and cleaning designated spots around Redwood City, and then relaxing over a Thank You lunch and the satisfaction of a job well done. CityTrees started as a modest proposal: a nonprofit to bring trees and congeniality to Redwood City and has flourished right along with the saplings they planted. “It’s just amazing when you watch a nine-year old kid, who is half the height of the shovel, planting a tree,” says Stephens, “and then you realize that they’ll be here planting more trees when they’re 60 with their nine-year old grandkid. If that doesn’t resonate with you, you need to get out more.” [caption id="attachment_4412" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="CityTrees volunteers aren't afraid to get their hands dirty!"]Muddy volunteer[/caption]
 

California ReLeaf Network Corner

Welcome Our Newest Network Member

The City of Lompoc Beautification & Appearance Commission acts in an advisory capacity to the City Council in all matters pertaining to the beautification and appearance of the Lompoc. This includes advising the City Council in urban forestry operations, policies, and procedures.

Grants Available Now

California ReLeaf is proud to announce exciting changes to our 2012 Grants Program for Tree Planting and Tree Care. • The award cap will jump from $7,500 to $10,000 – a 33% increase in grant maximums awarded in the last several years. • For the first time, tree-planting grants can include a staffing component. • Both tree planting and tree care grants projects will include an environmental education component that will nurture public awareness, knowledge, appreciation, and stewardship to foster strong urban forests. • Increased technical assistance will be provided to help throughout the process. Webinars will be scheduled to guide prospective grantees through the application process and support grant recipients as their projects come to a close. Applications must be returned to California ReLeaf no later than July 20th, 2012 to be eligible for consideration. We are very excited about this year’s Tree Planting and Tree Care programs, and appreciate the financial support provided by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Region IX Environmental Protection Agency for these grants. Visit our grants page now to download a copy of the Grant Guidelines and Application. [sws_divider_top]

One vote = 114 Trees

Growing a little goodness was never so easy. Your vote will help California ReLeaf and Canopy get a $10,000 grant to plant 114 trees at Brentwood Academy in East Palo Alto. [sws_grey_box box_size="410"]

To vote for healthy trees and healthy kids, click here! Simply log on and vote for our project’s video to plant trees.

[/sws_grey_box] Other California competitors include: California Greenworks, California State Parks, Friends of the Urban Forest, Just One Tree, Pasadena Community Foundation, Sutro Stewards, and Urban ReLeaf.

Partners in Community Forestry National Conference

Partners in Community Forestry ConferenceThe Partners in Community Forestry National Conference, presented annually by National Arbor Day Foundation is coming to Sacramento November 14-16. Mark your calendars now! Because we know your travel time and resources are limited, we will also host the California ReLeaf Network Retreat in Sacramento on November 13. Dues-paying Network members will receive a travel stipend and airfare (depending on location) to attend the Retreat.
 

State and Federal Legislative Updates

By Chuck Mills

Cap and Trade Reigns; Water Bond Poors

California’s State Legislature has started working in earnest towards creating a suite of measures that would mandate how revenues generated from cap and trade offset credit auctions will be spent now and in the years to come. Though urban forestry is well positioned on its merits to be included as an eligible revenue recipient, the political and fiscal reality of what a sustainable funding source could mean to a host of other projects and programs (including high-speed rail) translates into a hard-fought battle ahead for our community. California ReLeaf’s primary legislative objective this year is doing all we can to ensure that urban forestry is part of the dialogue as cap and trade revenue allocation discussions continue and decisions are made. There are currently three primary pieces of legislation that are moving forward on this issue. All of the measures passed out of policy committee in April, and will next be heard by the Appropriations Committee in each respective house. California ReLeaf has met with the staff of all three authors, and supports the measures, as follows:

Assembly Bill 1532 (Perez)

– This bill sets up broad guidelines on how cap and trade revenues should be allocated through the creation of a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account, and includes language specifying natural resource protection projects as an eligible funding component of the overall bill.

Senate Bill 1572 (Pavley)

– This bill is the Senate’s counterpart to Assembly Speaker Perez’ bill, but with more focus on the technicalities of creating a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account.

Assembly Bill 2404 (Fuentes)

– This measure was introduced as a way to create fiscal incentives for local governments to plan and implement their own greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts. While California ReLeaf supports the bill, we are already working with some Network members and the author’s office on potential amendments that will strengthen the role of nonprofits and community-based organizations in this bill. Urban Forestry’s other opportunity for securing project funding – the 2012 water bond – has become a back-burner issue, with chatter from the Governor’s office, the Speaker’s office and the office of the Senate President signaling this ballot-box measure could be pushed back to 2014. The existing bond contains no specific urban forestry dollars, meaning the bond would have to be pulled off the ballot by the Legislature, retooled to include urban forestry while also being reduced in size, and placed back on the ballot with a two-thirds vote from both houses of the Legislature in order to achieve this funding objective. [sws_divider_top]

Politics Likely to Stall Policy at Federal Level in 2012

As the 2012 Presidential election draws closer, the Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate will likely be focused on priorities other than pressing legislative matters that have spilled over from 2011. Though a continuing resolution passed late last year will support the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, other important items are still on the table in Washington without any clear direction as to what may become of them in 2012. This includes:

2012 Farm Bill

– This effort stalled last year and is currently in limbo. The Alliance for Community Trees (ACT) partnered with the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition (SUFC) in 2011 to prepare recommendations for urban forestry within the appropriate section of the 2012 Farm Bill that urge the USDA to prioritize funding to conservation, urban forestry, land protection, watershed health, and green infrastructure programs built on comprehensive, landscape level plans. Click here to download the SUFC Executive Summary and Recommendations.

The Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act

– HR 709 is a reboot of earlier legislation (known as UPARR) that would rehabilitate and improve urban parks and recreational infrastructure if passed by Congress and signed by the President. The objective is to revitalize communities with the addedbenefits of urban greening and recreation spaces. Though the measure has generated significant support, it has stalled in the House Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity.

The Federal Transportation Enhancements (TE) Program

– TE is the largest Federal funding source for walking and bicycling trails, and also provides significant resources for landscaping, urban forestry and environmental mitigation. In 2011, there were efforts made in the U.S. Senate to introduce an amendment to eliminate the dedicated funds set aside for the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program. Though the amendment was defeated, there is concern this will likely resurface in 2012 as Congress considers a long-term federal transportation bill.
 

Carbon Offsets and the Urban Forest

The California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32) calls for a 25% statewide reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. How are you responding? Urban forest offset projects are in their early stages and there is uncertainty as to their effectiveness. However, by involving the business sector in climate protection, the offset market could spur investment and create new revenue streams for urban forestry. Come to the workshop on June 6th to find out how you can capitalize on urban forestry offset projects. Program agenda, driving directions and registration information is available online here. Your $65 registration includes parking, morning coffee, tea, and scones, and a gourmet boxed lunch. Please send workshop inquiries to the CA Center for Urban Horticulture at ude.sivadcu.seac@hucc or call 530.752.6642. [sws_divider_top] Carbon Offsets and the Urban Forest