1. MLK Day of Service: An Opportunity for Environmental Justice

    By Kevin Jefferson and Eric Arnold, Urban Releaf On this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service (MLK DOS), we helped Urban Releaf plant trees on G Street in East Oakland. This is where we’ve been doing a lot of work the past few months. The area needs a lot of help; it’s one of the worst blocks in the city in terms of blight and illegal dumping. And as you might expect, its tree canopy is minimal. We wanted to have our MLK DOS event, which we’ve been doing for the past seven years, here, because this...
  2. Urban Forestry Makes History

    By Chuck Mills   On June 15, 2014, the Legislature passed a state budget bill that includes $17.8 million for CAL FIRE’s Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) Program.  Governor Brown is expected to sign this deal.   To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest single-state annual appropriation for urban forestry in US History.   More details will follow, but this much is certain: $15.7 million for projects and grants through the U&CF Program, with $2.1 million to support staffing and administration. Per the statutory requirements of Senate Bill 535, the majority of these funds will benefit disadvantaged...
  3. 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...
  4. National Walking Day

    Today, take a break from your normal routine and take a walk.   The American Heart Association celebrates National Walking Day every year on the first Wednesday in April. The holiday was created to increase the amount of activity people get and, in turn, their heart health. Healthy urban forests are an important part of making the walks you take for heart heath even better.   People who live in tree-lined neighborhoods are three times more likely to be active than those who live in less green communities. Studies have also shown that the brain operates in a more meditative...
  5. Volunteers Make a Difference in Woodland

    Volunteers can make a huge difference for their communities. The amazing folks at Woodland Tree Foundation, a California ReLeaf Network member, are the perfect example of how people with a common goal can make their communities stronger, their neighborhoods more beautiful, and their town’s residents healthier.
  6. 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...
  7. Partnering to Protect the Bay Area’s Water

    California ReLeaf recently supported the recruitment and training of two interns for The Watershed Project’s Tree Team Project who will act as Richmond Rain to Roots program ambassadors in Richmond’s Iron Triangle and Sante Fe, two low-income, high-crime neighborhoods in the city.   Training for the interns included 20 hours of basic watershed awareness curriculum that included urban forestry concepts and benefits, climate change topics, storm water pollution and an introduction to green infrastructure solutions. An additional 16 hours was spent training them for the outreach portion of the program. The interns learned how to promote the tree-planting program both...
  8. Fallen Trees Drive Study

    In June, Minnesota was bombarded by storms. High winds and heavy rains meant that there were many felled trees by the end of the month. Now, University of Minnesota researchers are taking a crash course in treefall.   These researchers are scrambling to to document patterns that might reveal why some trees fell and other didn’t. They want to know if urban infrastructure – sidewalks, sewer lines, streets, and other public works projects – has effected the rate at which urban trees fall.   For an in-depth report of how this study will be conducted, you can read an article...
  9. San Bernardino Youth Renew Parks and Streets

    Southern California Mountains Foundation’s Urban Youth Tree Corp Project, funded through grants made possible by California ReLeaf, CAL FIRE, and the Environmental Protection Agency, was a very successful and effective effort to engage inner city, at-risk youth in urban tree care at the local parks and on the streets. 324 youths were recruited and trained through 32 environmental education, tree care, and urban forestry workshops through the project.   The focal point of the project was tree care and field education and experience for the Urban Conservation Corps (UCC). The Southern California Mountains Foundation provides a workforce development program that...
  10. Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program Releases Updated Draft Guidelines

    The Strategic Growth Council has released draft guidelines for the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant and Incentives Program, which offers grants to cities, counties, and designated regional agencies to promote sustainable community planning and natural resource conservation. This draft includes substantial changes to how applications are assessed.   Below is a summary of the proposed changes. For more details on these explanations, please see the Workshop Draft.   Strongly prioritize greenhouse gas emission reduction projects. Measure progress with actionable and valuable indicators based on reliable quantifiable or qualitative data. Prioritize project implementation by focusing on projects likely to be implemented in...