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Cap & Trade Funds for our Urban Forest

January 25, 2016

Dear Senate President de Leon and Speaker Atkins:

We are writing to voice our strong support for the proposed allocation from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for urban forestry and urban greening identified in the Governor’s 2016-17 State Budget released on January 7th, 2016.

Urban forestry and urban greening can and should play a significant role in meeting the greenhouse gas reduction targets set forth in AB 32 as well as meeting the mandates set forth in AB 1532 and SB 535. Continued investments through CAL FIRE’s Urban and Community Forestry Program in both the short-term and long-term will support hundreds of projects throughout California that engage communities in myriad greening activities that include community gardens, bioswales, and planning, planting and stewarding trees and these other valued resources. This proposed $30 million allocation will build on the success of 29 urban forestry projects previously funded through the GGRF, while also helping to address a 600% oversubscription to the Program in 2014.

We are equally excited to see $20 million for an Urban Greening Program in GGRF resources proposed by the Governor that would support additional greening opportunities throughout California administered by the California Natural Resources Agency. Nature based solutions, such as local parks, green alleys, open space and working lands, have direct and quantifiable GHG benefits while also providing significant climate adaptation co-benefits that can have a transformative impact on communities across California, particularly disadvantaged communities hit first and worse by climate change. This climate-smart approach increases mobility options in communities to ensure transportation mode shifts, captures and cleans our water, reduces energy usage connected with urban heat island affect, and sequesters greenhouse gases through natural infrastructure.

Furthermore, when these resources are integrated with other efforts to reduce GHG emissions in other sectors, such as affordable housing, climate resilience and public benefits are amplified and investments are more cost-effective. They can also provide incentives to regions and communities to integrate green infrastructure into climate plans such as Sustainable Communities Strategies and Climate Action Plans.

The Governor’s proposed State Budget recognizes the pressing need to sustain existing funding commitments for urban forestry while simultaneously expanding greening opportunities to address critical environmental justice needs and mandates set forth by SB 375. These increased investments are especially critical in light of the 2015-16 State Budget which proposed $38 million for urban forestry but provided no GGRF funding for these purposes.

The signatories to this letter represent a unified voice committed to working with the Governor, Senate and Assembly to ensure our 2030 GHG reduction goals are supported by strategic natural resource investments in our built environment that maximize opportunities to sequester carbon, avoid conversion, and truly have a transformative impact in creating a low-carbon California.

We urge the Senate and Assembly to support these proposals as Budget discussions progress.