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Financing the Urban Forest

This is a very interesting article on financing the urban forest that was shared with me http://efc.web.unc.edu/2013/08/09/financing-urban-forestry/ Although I do feel that 75% of budgets should be spent on tree maintenance the article has great points.  What do you think of the article?

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  • Updates may or may not be part of maintenace depending on who and how it is updated. I think a large portion of budget is on maintenance/staff time because funding for planting has already been outside funding.  I think it is difficult to fund tree removal for example.  This is why I found this article interestings, because in Iowa we rarely think of tax or bonds to finance the work that needs to be done for a healthy and sustainable urban forest.
     
    Shawn Gagne said:

    I really like the idea of private public partnerships mentioned in this article.  Jeff Hughes writes a bit more about it too in his linked article found in the second paragraph.  

     

    The question I have, though, is how would maintenance spending and allocation work with alternative funding?  Especially since it's such a large portion of a typical budget. I understand that Des Moines is moving towards a similar funding model with Tree Des Moines (www.Treedesmoines.com).  Also, would ongoing updates to the tree inventory be a part of maintenance?

  • I really like the idea of private public partnerships mentioned in this article.  Jeff Hughes writes a bit more about it too in his linked article found in the second paragraph.  

     

    The question I have, though, is how would maintenance spending and allocation work with alternative funding?  Especially since it's such a large portion of a typical budget. I understand that Des Moines is moving towards a similar funding model with Tree Des Moines (www.Treedesmoines.com).  Also, would ongoing updates to the tree inventory be a part of maintenance?

  • This is an excellent article and reminds me that in addition to providing information about green infrastructure tools and ordinances, finding funding for these projects is equally important and a priority for communities. I'd like to see more success stories from communities that are using some of these methods.

  • Thanks for sharing Emma and for starting an important discussion! This article highlights the need for communities to start or continue to develop the concept of trees as valuable pieces of infrastructure, rather than "luxuries." Planners, engineers, and folks in charge of budgeting need to understand that trees provide valuable services and can be thought of as part of the community infrastructure. Like other infrastructure, trees need maintenance, but unlike traditional “gray” infrastructure, trees will become more valuable over time--not less. 

    In my area, the town of Amherst, MA passed a bond for $612,000 that will fund a planting program to get 2,000 trees in the ground and watered. Included in the program, was funding for two interns from UMass’s Stockbridge School of Agriculture’s Arboriculture and Urban Forestry program who sited and planted trees, often working with property owners interested in having a public shade tree on their property. (In Massachusetts, we have a law that allows public trees to be planted up to 20 feet from the right of way on private property with the property owner’s permission.) This law enables communities across the state to place trees in areas away from salt and other road hazards and gives residents a sense of ownership of the urban forest. (It also means that many residents will take up watering the newly-planted tree or trees—a major factor in long-term survival and a task that is often beyond the capacity of municipal programs.) Citizen support is critical!

    With some funding, it is easy enough to get trees in the ground, but the difficult part is maintaining those young trees so that they will grow to become large shade trees and provide maximum benefits to the community. If communities don’t have the capacity to adequately maintain new trees, this may involve partnering with local organizations or reaching out to residents to water new street trees in front of their property. In Worcester (where LOTS of planting has taken place because of tree removals due to Asian Longhorned Beetle), the city has worked with a non-profit, the Worcester Tree Initiative, to water new trees in the city. In the city of Cambridge, MA, a tree “ambassador” (a city intern) roams the city on a bicycle with a trailer talking to residents about watering the trees in front of their properties as well as watering trees and maintaining tree pits.

    In Massachusetts, some communities have passed ordinances that levy a charge for removing non-hazardous public shade trees that are in the way of development. That charge goes into a fund that goes toward the urban forestry program which may help out urban forestry programs, but is typically far from comprising a significant portion of funding. What it does do, though, is forward the concept of trees as valuable components of community infrastructure.     

    Another absence in the article is a discussion of planning-- basing management and planting needs on a tree inventory or resource assessment—finding out exactly what the maintenance and planting needs are for the community. Having a plan may enable a city or town to better use limited tree dollars. More trees may be the answer, but they have to be in the right places with the right maintenance plan.  

    Having multiple sources of funding is one way to ensure that urban forestry programs continue to be functional and effective in the face of shrinking budgets. Have any other communities used any of the funding options the article cites? Taxes, bonds, permit fees, utility bill donations, etc? Do programs typically have multiple sources of funding? 

  • This is a great article and it excites a discussion we should be having locally and across the nation.  Urban forests are a valuable asses (see the link in the article to the ICLEI report), yet the excuse most communities tender for not enhancing their urban forest program is the lack of available funds.

    One notable absence in this article is the role of the citizen non-profit groups in raising funds and planting trees (and in advocating on behalf of urban forests).  The base of citizen support and ownership is critical to the future of any community forest!

  • From the Colorado perspective our issue is not necessarily with finding resources for tree planting, we've been fairly successful with that over the years, but in properly selecting and maintaining those trees. Growing trees in a semi-arid, native short grass prairie ecosystem that experiences wide variations in weather extremes makes it a challenge to get trees established and providing benefits. Any taxes or special assessments for trees don't fly here, we have had to access the corporate and foundation world to come up with funds for tree planting.

  • Yes 75% on tree maintenance but hopefully using the tools they discuss, the portion for planting would be part of a larger pie. I especially like the idea of Utility Bill Donations and/or Tax Bill donations.

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