1. 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....
  2. 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...
  3. 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...
  4. 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...
  5. 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...
  6. 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...
  7. A Second Chance to Connect Trees to Water Quality

    California’s State Legislature voted on July 5th to move the $11 billion water bond slated for the November 2012 Ballot to 2014, thus opening an opportunity to craft a more economically feasible and environmentally responsive product for voters to consider over the next 24 months. This is the second time the bond vote has been delayed since 2010.   What a more “economically feasible” and “environmentally responsive” bond looks like depends largely on who you ask. But what is certain is that the current version does not contain funding for urban greening. In fact, it is the first water/resources bond...
  8. Budget Bill Boosts Urban Forestry Efforts

    Governor Jerry Brown has signed the primary component of the State’s 2012-2013 spending plan which seeks to close a $15.7 billion budget gap through deep cuts to multiple services, pay decreases for state workers, and reliance on the passage of a tax initiative that is slated for the November 2012 ballot.   While the 2012-13 budget is a mixed bag for multiple interests throughout California, urban forestry will see funding next year coming primarily from: $10 million included for the Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program, $20 million for a third and final round of urban greening grants through the Strategic...
  9. Vote with Your Mission

    Vote with Your Mission is a new campaign to have 100% of eligible nonprofit staff, board members, and volunteers vote.  We call on nonprofits in California to sign on to the Vote with Your Mission campaign.   Vote with Your Mission aims to galvanize the power of the nonprofit community and emphasize the importance of voting for the ideals and values that have brought each of us to our nonprofit work.  Too often nonprofits shy away from anything “political.”  But we have a right – and indeed – a duty to be heard.  Encouraging our volunteers and staff members to...