2014 Sample Letter to Congress

April ___, 2014
The Honorable ______________________
Member, [US House or Senate]
[City, State, Zip]
RE: FY 2015 Budget Proposal, USDA Forest Service, Urban & Community Forestry Program and Urban
Forestry Research
Dear ________________________:
We are writing to urge your support for [your state’s] community trees and urban forests by acting to
ensure that the FY 2015 budget contains strong funding for two essential USDA Forest Service programs.
We urge you to support at least $31.3 million for the Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) Program
and at least $298 million for Forest and Rangeland Research, which includes Urban Forestry Research.
There are more than 100 million acres of urban forest lands across the nation, providing essential
environmental, social, and economic services such as energy conservation, improved air and water
quality, recreation, and improved public health to the more than 83 percent of our nation’s population
who live in cities and communities.
The U&CF Program is the primary federal program that reaches out and provides technical and financial
assistance to local communities and non-profit groups for planting, maintaining, protecting, and
restoring these urban forests. In FY 2013, the U&CF program delivered technical, financial, educational,
and research assistance to 7,292 communities and nearly 198 million people -- over 60 percent of the
U.S. population.
Urban Forestry Research provides baseline information, new technologies, and tools for communities to
map and examine conditions and trends in their urban forests. In addition, Urban Forestry researchers
have helped us understand the amazing benefits of urban trees, such as carbon capture, stormwater
interception, human health, air pollution mitigation, and avoided infrastructure costs.
The U&CF Program and Urban Forestry Research have been a model of integration, working together to
develop information and provide assistance to communities and local organizations across the nation,
helping them to plan and implement urban forestry projects for a variety of purposes and in diverse
local settings. As a member of the Alliance for Community Trees, [your organization’s name] is joining
local organizations across the nation in urging Congress to restore funding to these critical federal
[(Paragraph about your efforts in your representative’s district: Indianapolis example below)
In Indianapolis, for example, our local water utility, Citizens Energy Group, responding to an EPA consent
decree, will work over the next ten years to eliminate all but 5% of raw sewage overflows into our river
and streams. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB), is partnering with Citizens in one neighborhood on a
100% natural systems stormwater sewer separation project. 10,000 functional native plants will grace
34 stormwater planters along neighborhood streets; 200 trees will further reduce stormwater runoff.
This strategy will save the utility money compared to a standard gray solution; and, the work is creating
jobs for will be completed by high school and college students who’ll plant and care for the trees; and
work alongside engineers and ecological services professionals.]
The President’s FY 2015 proposal for the U&CF Program is $23.7 million, a 16 percent reduction from
the FY 2014 enacted level. With extended drought, severe storms, and invasive pests creating unusual
stress on America's community forests and municipal budgets over the past few years, we argue that it
is not the time for further reductions in the U&CF Program. This reduction is part of a recent trend since
FY 2012 that could have long-lasting effects on programs across the nation and within [your state].
Similarly, the President’s FY 2015 proposal for Forest and Rangeland Research is $275.3 million, a 6
percent reduction from FY 2014. With the extraordinary natural disturbances facing all of our nation’s
forests today, we must continue making strong investments in forestry research and, in particular, urban
forestry research. Looking to the future—as reflected in the Forest Service’s strategic assessments and
plans—urban forestry will become even more critical to help address the growing environmental,
economic, and social challenges anticipated in our nation’s urban areas.
For these reasons, we urge you to support $31.3 million for the U&CF Program and $298 million for
Forest and Rangeland Research in the FY 2015 budget. Thank you for your consideration, and for your
help in restoring and maintaining healthy, vibrant community forests in [your state] and across the