TCIA Supports Federal Programs to Enhance and Protect Urban Forests

TCIA supports funding for our nation’s current and expanding 138 million acres of urban trees and forests that are vital to creating and maintaining healthy, livable communities of all sizes. Photo of Central Park in NYC, courtesy of Vincent Ledvina on Unsplash.

In order to fund federal programs and agencies for fiscal year (FY) 2023, the federal government is currently undergoing what is known as the annual appropriations process. This process of determining discretionary spending begins early each year with the release and distribution of the president’s budget proposal, which includes information on the administration’s priorities and corresponding data and analysis that place the budget recommendation in perspective. Congress then undergoes the process of setting the actual budget and allocating funding for a multitude of federal programs through an often lengthy and convoluted negotiations process between its various committees and subcommittees.

These negotiations often utilize and rely upon stakeholder input, allowing federal agency representatives and members of the public to offer expert opinions and relevant data to contextualize how federal funding, or a lack thereof, will affect their agency, industry and the American public at large. Sharing testimony with members of Congress and engaging them in conversations about the impact of funding on their districts allows representatives to make more informed decisions about which areas present the greatest priorities. Accordingly, the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) regularly engages with industry partners to advocate for forestry and green-infrastructure funding on Capitol Hill during the appropriations process.

Urban-forestry funding

TCIA supports funding for our nation’s current and expanding 138 million acres of urban trees and forests that are vital to creating and maintaining healthy, livable communities of all sizes. As TCIA members know, trees provide many scientifically proven social, economic and environmental benefits, including reducing air pollution and stormwater runoff, decreasing energy consumption, mitigating the heat-island effect and improving human health. Given that community trees and forests also provide $18.3 billion in cost savings related to reductions in air pollution, energy use and greenhouse gasses every year, investments in nationwide tree care and green infrastructure provide economic advantages for small and large communities alike.

Funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Services’ Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) Program, for example, provides one of the most far-reaching federal investment opportunities to directly assist state governments, nonprofit organizations and partners that manage and steward our nation’s urban and community forests. Working with the state forestry agencies, the program provides technical, financial, research and educational support and services to local governments, nonprofit organizations, community groups, educational institutions and tribal governments. In FY 2021, UCF distributed $32 million in funding to state forestry agencies and non-profit partners – helping 7,100 communities perform tree inventories, prepare management plans and train staff and community residents in tree planting and tree care.

TCIA also supports other critical funding priorities, including addressing invasive pests through the Cooperative Forest Health Management program, Landscape Scale Restoration projects, USDA Forest Service Research and Development, Urban Forests in Forest Inventory and Analysis, the Department of the Interior’s Civilian Climate Corps, the National Park Service’s Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Funds. Together, these programs holistically and thoroughly address a multitude of challenges facing our nation’s forests and tree canopy.

APHIS funding

In May of 2022, TCIA joined 13 organizations to urge the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development to continue their support of a federal program that is key to protecting America’s urban and rural forests from pest-caused mortality and associated threats to sustainability in the face of climate change: the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS is responsible for preventing the introduction and spread of invasive pests. While most port inspections are carried out by the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, APHIS sets the policy guidance critical to promoting plant health.

What’s next?

To finalize funding for FY 2023, Congress must pass a final appropriations bill by the end of the fiscal year, September 30, 2022, or agree to continuing resolutions as substitutes, which effectively serve as stopgap measures to allow federal agencies to continue operating at the previous fiscal year’s spending level. The House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies is responsible for determining funding for the Forest Service and many of the aforementioned programs, and is currently holding hearings to discuss various funding requests with agency and industry representatives.

TCIA will continue to keep members apprised of updates relating to funding for urban-forestry and green-
infrastructure programs. Updates on the Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies and appropriations-related hearings can be found on the House Appropriations Committee website at appropriations.house.gov/events/hearings.

Lara Dunkelberg is a legislative assistant with Ulman Public Policy, TCIA’s Washington, D.C.-based advocacy and lobbying partner.

Want to know more about TCIA’s advocacy efforts? Visit advocacy.tcia.org.

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