To advance in the legislature urban forestry and environmental issues.
Lobbyists and citizen activists draft initiatives of common environmental issues, obtain public support and funding, and advance them through legislative bodies.
Planning and Conservation League's (PCL) mission is to save California's land and natural resources. Recently it drafted a Park and Wildlife Initiative to appropriate approximately $50 million annually from oil leases on state land for an environmental heritage endowment fund that would acquire and maintain natural lands threatened by development, provide recreational opportunities for at-risk youth, and fund state conservancies, the Wildlife Conservation Board and similar agencies. Urban forestry programs and river parkways were to be among the beneficiaries.
For the initiative to appear on the ballot, 700,000 signatures needed to be gathered demonstrating popular support for the measure. Additionally, funding and endorsements were obtained to run a direct mail, radio and television campaign. The total cost of preparing the initiative for voting was estimated to be about $5 million.
People of assorted skills, backgrounds and education levels are involved in this kind of work. "PCL is a league of different groups throughout the state having a common conservation interest" says Tim McCrae who is charged with updating PCL's data base of grassroots supporters who can be called upon on short notice to show support for conservation issues. PCL can be accessed at www.pcl.org. Nationally, Native Forest Council (www.forestcouncil.org) protects forests and watersheds by heightening public awareness about logging in America and showing the ways citizens can make a difference.
Chuck Mills, Senior Project Associate for the Trust for Public Lands (TPL), maintains contact with resource agencies and funding sources for conservation projects. Chuck finds work with urban forestry groups very satisfying particularly "When our efforts paid off on the Park Bond with an overwhelming 18 to 2 vote."
Chuck has bachelor degrees in journalism and Canadian studies and a masters degree in political science. Communications skills are key to getting messages across, particularly in writing, as in the handbook of all TPL projects that is distributed annually to assembly members. Anyone working in this field must have a good grasp of current events.
Chuck recommends getting started with an internship with one of the agencies. That way you can learn the administrative ropes and be available to move into a full time position when the opportunity arises, as happened to him after three months of internship. Salaries with non-profits start at $6.50 per hour. Government agencies start at about $9.00. With experience, one can advance to $30,000 per year.
Corey Brown, Director of Government Affairs at Trust for Public Lands, operates at a higher level, presenting testimony to legislators, lobbying, and negotiating support and funding for urban forestry and environmental programs.
Ann Moote does policy research in conflict resolution at the Udall Center of the University of Arizona. Mediators are becoming increasingly popular in finding ways to find common grounds in urban forestry issues (like views and values) and moving forward in a positive way.