Washington state’s Urban and Community Forestry Program provides technical, educational, and financial assistance to local governments, citizen groups and volunteers to help them plant and sustain healthy trees and vegetation in communities throughout our state. We are able to provide these services thanks to funding from the USDA Forest Service.

In recent weeks, we’ve learned that the presidential budget proposes defunding the Urban and Community Forestry Program and other allied community assistance programs housed within the Forest Service. Without federal assistance, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ Urban and Community Forestry Program will be severely impacted and may eventually cease to exist.

The USDA Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program (FS UCF) is the administrative core of, and funding source for, urban and community forestry programming for all U.S. states and territories, a few non-profit organizations and several research institutions across the country. Financial support from the forest service facilitates a comprehensive approach among national, state and local stakeholders who study, promote, manage, plant and care for trees in America’s cities and towns.

Since 2001, DNR has granted just short of $2.5 million to communities throughout Washington state for urban and community forestry education and resource management thanks to FS UCF funding. Our grantees have more than doubled those dollars with local matching funds and volunteer hours. Together with our partners, nearly $ 7 million has been invested in Washington’s urban and community forests over the last 16 years.

Benefits of Urban Forests

Urban forests are the forests where we live, work, play and learn, and serve a key role in achieving solutions that address many quality of life issues. Along with many other benefits, healthy, well-managed trees help clean our air, sequester carbon, mitigate stormwater run-off, help reduce the ‘heat island effect’ in our cities and even help to improve learning outcomes.

Many of our Tree Link readers are intimately familiar with these benefits. If any of you have ever considered telling the story of how investments in urban forestry have helped your community, now might be an apt time to do so. For those so inclined to channel their inner Lorax, here is a link to help you find who are your state and federal elected officials: www.usa.gov/elected-officials

The Sustainable Urban Forest Coalition will host a webinar on July 12  from 12-1 p.m., Central time (10-11 a.m., Pacific time) for those who want learn more about how federal budget decisions stand to impact urban and community forestry at state and national levels.

“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues” ~ Dr. Suess.

By Linden J. Lampman, program manager, DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program