April 2020 Note from the Chairs

In This Issue:

  • SUFC Community Considers “Essential Services” Designations
  • SUFC 15th Anniversary & SUFC Annual Meeting
  • New Republic Article Claims “Green Jobs Are the Answer to the Coronavirus Recession”

SUFC Community Considers “Essential Services” Designations

As the country deals with the COVID-19 outbreak, at least two SUFC members are considering how to navigate federal and state emergency declarations limiting business activity to “essential services.”

The National Association of Landscape Professionals publicized a letter on March 17, calling for policymakers to designate landscape services as “essential” during the public health emergency and allow them to continue to operate in places with emergency declarations and/or mandated quarantines. As they explain in their letter, “Without the landscape industry conducting these valuable services, we will undoubtedly see increased instances where people may be harmed or become sick from other illnesses compounding our already stretched medical resources.” A “halt or delay in landscape services during this time of year only magnifies potential safety problems.”

Additionally, the International Society of Arboriculture (along with the Tree Care Industry Association) issued a letter to their members to help them determine which tree care operations should be considered essential. The associations recommended their members review their work logs and identify which activities “are directly related to client or public safety.” They urged their members to put off any other work until “the pandemic response has subsided.” 

SUFC’s 15th Annual Meeting and Reception

On March 4, SUFC held its 15th Annual Meeting Annual Meeting and Reception in Arlington, Virginia. It’s hard to believe 15 years have passed since SUFC was established with support from the National Tree Trust, International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), and the USDA Forest Service with a mission to foster synergy between like-minded organizations and build bridges between diverse organizations with overlapping interests and sectors. Today, the coalition, composed of 33 members, is the nation’s ONLY network of nonprofits, businesses, associations, foundations, and others working together to advance sound, effective urban forest policy and practices.

We had a strong turnout for this year’s meeting with participants from member organizations, government agencies, and private-sector partners. The Networking Initiative Collaborators shared informative presentations on new ideas and projects shaping today’s discussions on urban and community forests. Meeting attendees also had substantial time to engage in conversations and grow their U&CF networks.

New this year was the addition of an update from Congressional staff. Emily Domenech, Senior Policy Adviser to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Will Layden, Legislative Assistant to Representative Bruce Westerman (R-AR), discussed the components of the bipartisan Trillion Trees Act. Staff answered questions on how the bill would be implemented, as well as the expected impact that the bill would have on the environment.

Emily Domenech, Senior Policy Advisor to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Will Layden, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), give a presentation on the Trillion Trees Act.

The afternoon portion of the meeting included four Networking Initiative Collaborators. The presentations were given by representatives from the Natural Areas ConservancyNational Recreation and Park Association, the University of British Columbia’s Urban Forestry in Action Lab, and the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center. Presentations related to our two major themes, Creative Funding Strategies for Urban & Community Forestry and New Technologies for Urban Forestry.

Wende David (left) and Jenny Cox (right) present on the National Recreation and Park Association’s project on Parks and Green Infrastructure for Health.

SUFC also launched a student and young professional scholarship initiative. SUFC hosted five impressive young professionals pursuing careers in fields related to urban forestry. They attended the meeting and reception, where they networked with their assigned mentors and others and expanded their networks and knowledge base. We heard that many of the mentors and professionals in the room also learned a great deal from the students and young professionals, making it a well-rounded, positive program for all.

(From left to right) Maegan Blansett, Lupita Solano, Maddy Dubelko, Corey Bassett, and Tom Ebeling were the five young professionals who received the student and young professional scholarship.

Thank you to all who came to the meeting! We hope to see you again next year.

New Republic Article Claims “Green Jobs Are the Answer to the Coronavirus Recession”

On March 18, New Republic published an article calling for a federal green jobs program in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the economy. The article calls for the federal government to act as the permanent “employer of last resort” “through a program that’s always in place but kicks into high gear during an economic downturn and then shrinks when people find work elsewhere in the public or private sector.” Under this program the government would hire the unemployed or underemployed to perform “tasks the country urgently needs—including those that actively fight climate change and its impacts.”