Legislative Trifecta Aims to Save CA Trees and Water

California’s urban forests and water had some major wins at the state level this month!

Three measures to expand protections and provide much-needed resources were passed by the legislature and officially signed by Governor Brown. These measures will help our city trees combat the impacts of climate change and create a roadmap for a greener future.

 

CA’s Urban Forestry Act gets a facelift!

Thanks to Assemblywoman Gonzalez-Fletcher and our key partners, California Releaf and the California Urban Forests Council, Assembly Bill 1530 expands the State’s Urban Forestry Act to directly connect urban forestry to stormwater management, social justice, climate-readiness, job creation and more.

The bill clarifies that there will be appropriate maintenance (not just planting) of trees in CAL FIRE’s programs. This means watering for tree maintenance as well as managing the urban forest for pests and disease is now included. Did you know experts predict up to 38% of Southern California’s urban trees could be lost? This is a public health crisis and will lead to increased heat-related deaths and respiratory illnesses if nothing changes. Pests are a big part of this destruction. Additionally, this bill allows CAL FIRE to provide advance payments on grants to nonprofits working in or with disadvantaged and low-income communities— just like Treepeople. That’s why we send our thanks to the Assemblymember for finding solutions!

Lastly, this now makes CAL FIRE’s urban forestry program, an effort to advance the development of sustainable urban and community forests in California, permanent. 

TreePeople has been a prime sponsor of this bill for the past two years, and we can’t wait to dig in!

 

 State’s Cap-and-Trade Programs steps in to save Urban Forests!

Thanks to Governor Brown’s Cap-and-Trade Expenditure Plan, revenues from the 2017-2018 Cap-and-Trade auctions are deposited into the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF).  Out of the $1.5 billion deposited in the GGRF, Assemblymember Ting’s Assembly Bill 109 will receive part of this year’s funds including $20 million for its Urban and Community Forestry Program. This is the largest single-state, one-year allocation of funding for urban forestry in U.S. history!

These funds could directly help us expand our ever-growing work in our climate-vulnerable communities of southeastern LA and the San Fernando Valley.    

The Cap-and-Trade Plan has also infused an additional $26 million for the new Urban Greening Program run by the Natural Resource Agency.  We are grateful to our State for recognizing the natural resource infrastructure needs facing urban communities!

 

 “Parks and Water Bond”

Once signed into law, Senate Bill 5 will create the first bond measure in state history to focus on social justice, offering access to parks for all Californians and distributing investments in water and flood control to low-income areas.

Over 1 million Californians still lack access to safe drinking water, and too many children lack access to healthy outdoor spaces,” bill author Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León said.

SB 5 contains no less than $15 million for urban forestry, $100 million for stormwater projects across the state and millions more for river parkways, urban streams, and other conservation programs. That means organizations like ours can expand their work to plant more trees and scale up efforts to create a secure local water supply across the state.

We’re energized that this trifecta of key bills has been passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. This is another action to demonstrate even more that California is a climate leader, and the work has just begun!

 

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As Senior Director of Policy, Deborah brings over two decades of experience in environmental policy to TreePeople. She works with policymakers at all levels of government in creating laws, policies and incentives to transform LA to a climate-resilient region. When she’s not crafting new policy solutions, she enjoys walking by the beach or hanging out with her family–including her adorable dog, Lucky.