Senator Ron Wyden introduced the small business tree-planting bill to the Senate today, one week after Friends of Trees Executive Director Scott Fogarty and countless other green infrastructure proponents lobbied in Washington D.C.
Fogarty, in D.C. for the Alliance for Community Trees’ (ACT) 2010 Green Infrastructure Summit, joined Friends of Trees Board Member Nancy Buley in convincing the entire Oregon elected delegation to support Congressman Kurt Schrader’s Small Business Environmental Stewardship Assistance Act (H.R. 4509).
“Our primary goal was to get all Oregon delegates on board for the re-authorization of the SBA—we succeeded in that,” said Fogarty. “And the second goal was to keep the issue of green infrastructure fresh in the mind of our delegates—and we accomplished that as well.”
Wyden (D-Ore.) is joined by Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) on the legislation.
“Renewal of the Small Business Tree Planting Program will bring jobs to hard-hit areas while taking some of the financial heat off of municipalities and small businesses looking for ways to green and beautify their retail and commercial areas,” said Wyden to the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA).
On the Oregon congressional side, Greg Walden (R-Ore.) joined his democratic delegates from Oregon at the last moment, making a clean sweep of support for Oregon’s tree industries.
“Congressman Walden is voting for Oregon—he’s not voting for the party—and I think that’s a very good sign,” said Fogarty. “Clearly our congressmen and senators get it.”
“Among the many things Oregonians do well is growing things, and trees are at the top of that list,” said Wyden to the Oregon Association of Nurseries. “There can be no better time than now to renew the Small Business Tree Planting Program because it will protect jobs in Oregon’s valuable nursery sector.”
Freshman Congressman Schrader (D-Ore.) commented to the ANLA that based on the bill’s initial success from 1991-94, now is the perfect time for this kind of job stimulus investment.
“We don’t want to leave our natural resource economy behind,” said Schrader. “It’s all fine to talk about high tech and the stuff in the cities, but here we can marry up our rural and urban counterparts.”
According to the ANLA, the first installment of this tree-planting bill included more than 18,000 participating businesses with fewer than 100 employees, using a total federal investment of $1,716,140 to stimulate $3,646,033 of total economic impact.
“It’s economic, it’s an economic thing and it’s an economic argument,” said Fogarty, who was quick to mention all who took part in last week’s efforts, including Buley from J. Frank Schmidt & Son nursery, Dean Marriott and Mike Rosen from Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Jared Liu from ACT, and Brian Krieg, chair of Portland’s Urban Forestry Commission.
Due to the current political climate, Fogarty and Schrader are both optimistic and pragmatic on their chances for passing H.R. 4509.
“I hope members back home in their districts can start talking about the bill a little bit,” said Schrader. “I think we have a good shot at this … it’s a great idea.”
“Success to me is putting the issue on the plate–acknowledging the issue–and at least beginning the discussion, not just for trees but for green infrastructure in general,” said Fogarty.