1. Change is Coming to Two California Communities

    Over the past few weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some very dedicated people in two of California’s largest cities – San Diego and Stockton. It’s been amazing to see both what needs to be accomplished in these cities and how hard these individuals are working to make sure the work in done.   In Stockton, volunteers are facing an up-hill battle. Last year, the city declared bankruptcy. It has one of the highest homicide rates in the country. Trees are the least of this community’s worries. Yet, there is a group of citizens there who know that...
  2. Making Urban Forestry Part of California’s Water Conversation

    Water can be a contentious issue in California’s communities. With resources becoming more limited and restrictions increasing, it’s important to make sure that urban forestry finds it’s place as one of the solutions Californians turn to to solve their water problems. Join us on Wednesday, May 15 from 11:00 a.m.-noon to hear from experts in the field and also hear case studies from an organization that has produced superior water conservation programs.   Speakers: Alf Brandt, Principle Consultant, California State Assembly Edith de Guzman, Research & Analysis Manager, TreePeople Deborah Weinstein, Director of Policy, TreePeople
  3. Congresswoman Matsui Introduces TREES Act

    Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) celebrated Arbor Day by introducing The Residential Energy and Economic Savings Act, otherwise known as TREES Act. This legislation would establish a grant program to assist electric utilities with energy conservation programs that use targeted tree planting to reduce residential energy demand. This legislation will help homeowners lower their electric bills – and help utilities lower their peak load demand – by reducing residential energy demand caused by the need to run air conditioners at a high level.   “As we continue to tackle the combined challenges of high energy costs and the effects of climate...
  4. Partnerships Pave Path to Success

    Last summer, California ReLeaf suddenly found itself in the unenviable position of being the torch-bearer for nonprofits across the state with regards to critical legislation that would set in statute eligible recipients for cap and trade funding. The first thing we did was activate the California ReLeaf Network. The second was build partnerships with other statewide groups.   The result was we got what we wanted, and we did it by teaming the local voice of the Network with the statewide clout of Trust for Public Land and the Nature Conservancy.   So when the chance came along for ReLeaf...
  5. President Obama, Ever Consider More Trees?

    You would have to live under a rock to not know that President Obama presented his State of the Union address to Congress and the country last night. During his speech, he talked about climate change, its effects on our country, and urged us to take action. He said:     Maybe you’re reading this and wondering, “What does climate change have to do with trees?” Our answer: a lot.   Annually, California’s existing urban forest of 200 million trees sequesters 4.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs) while also displacing an additional 1.8 million metric tons each year....
  6. A Challenge to California’s Cities

    Last week, American Forests announced the 10 best U.S. cities for urban forests.  California had one city on that list – Sacramento.  In a state where over 94% of our population lives in an urban area, or roughly 35 million Californians, it’s deeply concerning that more of our cities didn’t make the list and that urban forests aren’t a top priority for our elected officials and policy makers.  We live in a state that makes many top 10 lists, including 6 of the top 10 U.S. cities with the worst air pollution.  Our urban forests, our cities’ green infrastructure, should be a top priority...
  7. Down, but Far From Out

    Exploring the Governor’s proposed State Budget is perhaps analogous to reading Dickens in that you have to traverse a lot of descriptors before getting to the good stuff.  Even then, the good stuff can be hard to find.  Such is the case with the 2013-14 blue print to balance California’s budget.   If you’re in the business of creating local parks, conserving farmland, or managing and enhancing the state’s urban forests, there’s not much to get excited about in this budget.  There are no dollars identified for these programs, and several others that have relied on bond funds for the...
  8. Farewell Policy Champs

    Nearly 25% of California’s State Legislature termed out in November, including numerous champions for urban forestry, parks, open space and environmental protection.  And while we welcome those new members of the State Assembly and Senate that bring them with bold and ambitious ideas on how to move California forward, we also acknowledge the great work of some true environmental champions from the last few years.   Among those now gone from the State Senate are Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto).  Both have chaired key environmental committees during their legislative tenure, and consistently fought for clean air...
  9. ReLeaf Network Keeps Nonprofits Alive in Cap and Trade Bills

    With two weeks to go in the 2012 Legislative Session, California ReLeaf discovered that a much-desired “local project funding program” was being inserted into the Cap and Trade bill package that was moving forward with great momentum.  The proposed language had much of what our network of urban forestry nonprofits would want to see (including specific mention of urban greening)… except nonprofit eligibility!  The entire community, with the exception of certified local conservation corps, was completely shut out. The next day, in a matter of hours, the Network responded like they have rarely responded before.  Almost thirty organizations joined together...
  10. Separating Parks from the Sparks

    All California nonprofits that have supported State Parks over the years in one form or another know the story that sparked a flame which has burned for more than two months.  Unauthorized vacation buyouts approved by a State Parks deputy director with a string of criminal convictions.  $54 million in “surplus” funds surface shortly thereafter unreported for more than a decade.  And both occurring within a state department that has been charged with protecting our 278 state-park system as budget woes bring 70 park closures dangerously close to reality.   And the sentiments shared by this large community of urban...