Silence Isn’t Golden

Over the next month, community groups and ReLeaf Network members across California have an opportunity to comment on two important issues. They are the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWM); and the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Urban Forest Project Protocols. To date, these efforts have been fairly non-profitable for urban forestry groups working daily to green our golden state, but with guidance from stakeholders they could prove to be beneficial.


In March, 2014, Governor Brown and the Legislature directed DWR to expedite the solicitation and award of $200 million in IRWM funding to support projects and programs that provide immediate regional drought preparedness, among other important water-related issues. To expedite the distribution of these funds, DWR will be using a streamlined grant application process, and is soliciting public comment on the Grant Program Guidelines and Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP).


IRWM was built on a promise of increasing collaboration among multiple stakeholders towards sustainable regional water management solutions in which the best players with the best projects would rise to the top.  However, Network members from virtually every water region have voiced frustration over a IRWM process in which local governments create a barrier to non-profit competition for these funds.


The IRWM issue will not be solved overnight, but a starting point can be providing written comment to DWR as to how these final Proposition 84 funds will be granted over the next several months.  Visit DWR’s website for more information.


Likewise, the urban forestry community has struggled with the Compliance Protocol for Urban Forest Projects since CARB adopted them.


The Climate Action Reserve has received feedback since then that Version 1.0 of the protocol presented significant hurdles to the successful implementation of urban forest offset projects.   This was further explored and affirmed at the Carbon Offsets & Urban Forest workshop held in Davis in 2012.  Chief among concerns voiced were verification frequency and monitoring.


CAR received funding from CALFIRE to revise the Urban Forest Project Protocol in 2013, and has released the revised protocol for review and public comment, which is due by Friday, April 25th.  The objective of this revision was to develop a revised protocol that will make it more feasible for urban forest projects to be implemented while still meeting regulatory-quality standards for carbon offset development.


On its website, CAR states “adoption of a revised protocol by the Reserve should facilitate implementation of more urban forest projects” (there has been only one to date).  However, early feedback from several stakeholders suggests significant obstacles may still exist.


The most meaningful input on this issue will come from those communities affected by the protocols, and those doing the work on-the-ground. Go to the Climate Action Reserve’s website for more information, and let your voice be heard.