Legislative Leaders Call for Investment in Natural and Working Lands Climate Strategies

Posted on Thursday, May 9th, 2019 by

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) and Senator Henry Stern (D-Calabasas) held a press conference calling for budget funding for critical natural and working lands climate change programs. CalCAN and several partner groups joined in yesterday’s event.

“These essential programs have already established a proven track record of public health, environmental, and economic benefits for communities across our state. Underserved areas like those in my district have been able to wield these grant opportunities in order to construct new parks, expand city greening, support agricultural efficiencies, and improve the condition of the Salton Sea.”

– Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia

Read the story of a farmer in Assemblymember E. Garcia’s district spearheading an on-farm water stewardship project with climate investments.

Governor Newsom will release his May revise budget today, which will include the Governor’s proposal for climate change investments. Assembly and Senate leaders called on the Governor to support $400 million from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for the following programs:

  • Urban Forestry Program under Cal Fire
  • Urban Greening Program under the California Natural Resources Agency
  • State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) under the California Department of Food and Agriculture
  • Healthy Soils Program under the California Department of Food and Agriculture
  • Wetlands and Watershed Restoration Program under the California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Programs under the Wildlife Conservation Board, California State Coastal Conservancy, California Coastal Commission, and San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission

“As the recent fire in my hometown made all too clear, our climate change liabilities are growing. Funding programs that achieve emissions reductions and bolster our resiliency through investment in our natural resources and working lands will save billions over time in costs that could otherwise crush local governments. Action is cheaper than inaction, and that’s why we’re encouraging the Governor and our colleagues to include funding for these critical programs in this year’s budget.”

– Senator Henry Stern
CalCAN Policy Director Jeanne Merrill addresses the crowd at the press conference, “Natural and working lands have a lot to offer when it comes to mitigating climate change. The good news is that we’re seeing more farmers and ranchers demanding access to the Climate Smart Agriculture programs, which are part of the natural and working lands package, than ever before. California is home to lots of innovative agricultural producers who are making a difference and we fully support today’s ask. It will allow California to continue to be a leader when it comes to agricultural stewardship in a way that helps heal our environment and make a difference for the health of our communities.”

What CalCAN and Partners Are Saying

Guillermo Rodriguez, California State Director, The Trust for Public Land:

“There is incredible urgency to invest now in the Urban Greening and Urban Forest Programs. Low-income, densely populated communities in California are not prepared for the impacts of climate change – they simply don’t have green spaces and tree canopy to protect them from extreme vulnerability from severe heat and flooding – events we know are here now, and will get worse.” 

Sarah Rose, Executive Director, Audubon California:

“Investing in our natural working lands makes tremendous sense, not just for our environment, but also for our economy. Every day we learn more about how climate change threatens not just our natural treasures, but our way of life, but we can make a better future with smart investments in the natural environment.”

Jeanne Merrill, Policy Director, California Climate and Agriculture Network:

“Agricultural solutions to climate change will help keep farmers on the land, improve our environment and secure our food production. State investments in our natural and working lands are critical for our long-term health and food security.” 

Paul Mason, Vice President of Policy and Incentives, Pacific Forest Trust:

“Climate change is already upon us with extreme flooding, devastating fires, and searing heat in our cities. Restoring our watersheds and greening our communities will help protect us from these disasters, but these actions take time to come to fruition. We need to act now to prepare for the more extreme climate change that is coming.”

Cindy Blain, Executive Director, California ReLeaf:

“With 95% of the population now living in urban areas, urban trees and green space are critical to the health and well-being of Californians. In addition to sequestering carbon, urban trees will help protect residents against extreme heat events, the resulting poor air quality, and heat-related deaths and illness. Trees are one of the most cost-effective, multi-benefit solutions available to cities for fighting climate change and building community resiliency.”

Jay Ziegler, Director of External Affairs for The Nature Conservancy:

“California’s natural and working lands are our last line of defense in protecting our climate and communities. When we protect nature, nature protects us. We commend the Assembly and Senate leadership effort to ensure there is adequate investment in these critical resources to protect our quality of life and achieve California’s climate goals.”

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