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Coalition Letter: Reed/Murkowski, Simpson/Moran- Sustainable Urban Forests Budget Recommendations (March 13, 2012)

Dear Chairman Reed and Ranking Member Murkowski:

Dear Chairman Simpson and Ranking Member Moran: 

The Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition (SUFC) represents a national coalition of diverse associations, nursery and landscape professionals, national and community nonprofits, urban planners, public works professionals, arborists, utility professionals, foresters, water quality experts, scientists, and others nationwide. Working together since 2004, this array of professionals monitor, care and advocate for urban trees and green infrastructure. As you consider FY13 appropriations for Interior Environment and Related agencies, we collectively ask for your support of the following:

• $31.3 million for the US Forest Service's Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) program. Urban forests are vital to creating and maintaining healthy, livable communities of all sizes. Trees in urban areas are a key component of sustainable green infrastructure and provide quantifiable ecosystem benefits to the 84% of Americans who live in metropolitan areas. Delivered in close partnership with State Forestry Agencies, the U&CF program assists cities, suburbs, and towns to maximize tree canopy and resulting environmental services. In FY11, the U&CF program delivered technical, financial, educational, and research assistance to 7,172 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and affiliated Pacific Island nations. The program reached nearly 195 million Americans (i.e. over 60% of the U.S. population) and leveraged an additional $30 million in state and local support. At this funding level, we also support the FY13 budget request to continue implementing strategic landscape-scale demonstration projects promoting energy conservation through tree planting.

• $112 million for the USDA Forest Service Forest Health Management Program, including $49 million applied on cooperative lands. Exotic pests and invasive species are among the greatest threats to urban (and rural) forests. These pests have the potential to displace and/or decimate native trees, shrubs and other vegetation types in both urban and rural forests as well as generate fuel for wildfire. Funding for the Forest Health Program supports activities related to prevention, suppression, and eradication of insects, diseases, and plants as well as conducting forest health monitoring through pest surveys.

• $18 million for urban natural resources research through Forest Service Research and Development. This request is consistent with the recommendations of the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council to increase the Forest Service's investment to $24 million for urban natural resources research by the year 2015. This program pioneered research on the effects of urban trees on air quality and quantified the effects of trees on temperature reduction, removal of air pollutants, reduced energy consumption, and the role of urban trees in reducing green house gas emissions.

• $4.7 million for EPA's Urban Waters Federal Partnership. No ecological boundaries separate urban, community and rural forests - and all forests play vital roles in delivering clean water to communities of every size. Urban and rural forests offer fiscally-sound green solutions to the management of stormwater, water storage, groundwater recharge and pollutant reduction. EPA's Urban Waters Partnership brings together multiple Federal agencies (including the Forest Service) to support stewardship and local restoration efforts to improve urban watersheds and accelerate water quality improvements by promoting green infrastructure, volunteer monitoring, and outreach to communities.

Thriving communities have a foundation of healthy and sustainable green infrastructure. Urban forests are integral to any community investing in itself and encouraging economic growth, active citizens and a cleaner environment. Accordingly, we urge you to maintain current funding levels as you consider FY13 appropriations for the above programs.

We would be pleased to answer any questions you may have. Thank you for your time and consideration of this important request. For further information or questions, please contact Gerry Gray, American Forests at 202-737-1944 or ggray@amfor.org.

Sincerely yours,

Arbor Day Foundation
Alliance for Community Trees
America In Bloom
American Forests
American Nursery and Landscape Association
American Planning Association
American Public Works Association
American Rivers
American Society of Consulting Arborists
American Society of Landscape Architects
The Davey Foundation
International Society of Arboriculture
Keep America Beautiful
National Association of Conservation Districts
National Association of State Foresters
National Hazards Mitigation Association
National Recreation and Park Association
Society of Municipal Arborists
Tree Care Industry Association
Utility Arborist Association
Water Environment Federation

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