Background

In late 2010 the U.S. Forest Service and New York Restoration Project (NYRP) launched a national initiative entitled Vibrant Cities & Urban Forests: A National Call to Action to promote and improve urban forests and green infrastructure in our nation’s cities and municipalities.

A national Task Force of 25 of the most visionary and respected municipal and state officials, national and local non-profit leaders, researchers, urban planners, and foundation and industry representatives were selected to participate in a workshop (April 2011) to address this objective. The three-day workshop addressed the future of our nation’s urban ecosystems; incorporating the environmental, economic and social benefits they bring to sustainable and vibrant cities. As a result of the workshop, the Vibrant Cities Task Force crafted a vision, set of recommendations and action steps that can improve our cities over the next decade and beyond.

These recommendations – finalized in the fall of 2011 – promote environmental justice, support urban ecosystems research, encourage cross-agency and organization collaboration in green infrastructure planning as well as suggest ways to grow a sustainable green jobs workforce, establish consistent funding resources and educate citizens and youth to encourage stewardship and environmental action.

Listed below are the Task Force members and the supporting Vibrant Cities Planning Committee.

  • Jackie Carrera, President and CEO of Parks and People Foundation (Baltimore, MD)
  • Martin Chávez, Former Executive Director of ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA (Washington, DC)
  • Aaron Durnbaugh, former Deputy Commissioner for Chicago Department of Environment and Vice Chair of Chicago Wilderness (Chicago, IL)
  • Mark Garvin, President of Tree Care Industry Association (Londonderry, NH)
  • John Giedraitis, Texas Urban Forestry Coordinator for Texas Forest Service (College Station, TX)
  • Mike Houck, Executive Director of Urban Greenspaces Institute (Portland, OR)
  • Liam Kavanagh, First Deputy Commissioner for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (New York, NY)
  • Larry Kotchman, State Forester for the North Dakota Forest Service (Bottineau, ND)
  • Dan Lambe, Vice President of Programs for the Arbor Day Foundation (Lincoln, NE)
  • Monica Lear, Deputy Associate Director of the Urban Forestry Administration in the DC Department of Transportation and the State Forester of the District of Columbia (Washington, DC)
  • Andy Lipkis, President of TreePeople, Inc. (Beverly Hills, CA)
  • Dean Marriott, Director of Environmental Services for the City of Portland, OR (Portland, OR)
  • Gavin McMillan, Principal-in-Charge for Hargreaves Associates (Cambridge, MA)
  • Greg Nickels, Board Member of Cascade Land Conservancy (Seattle, WA)
  • John Norquist, President and CEO of Congress for New Urbanism (Chicago, IL)
  • Mary Northridge, Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Public Health and Assistant Professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion at New York University College of Dentistry (New York, NY)
  • Stephanie Pincetl, Adjunct Professor at UCLA Institute of the Environment (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Pat Pineda, Group Vice President of Toyota North America, Inc., National Philanthropy and the Toyota USA Foundation (New York, NY)
  • Shannon Ramsay, Founding President and CEO of Trees Forever (Marion, IA)
  • Scott Robson, Executive Director of Evergreen Park & Recreation District (Evergreen, CO)
  • Maitreyi Roy, former Vice President for Programs at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Stephen Shurtz, Urban Forestry and Landscape Manager for the City of Baton Rouge, LA, Department of Public Works (Rouge, LA)
  • Philip Silva, Co-Director of treeKIT, a project of the Open Space Institute (Brooklyn, NY)
  • James Skiera, Executive Director of International Society of Arboriculture (Champaign, IL)
  • Ray Tretheway, Executive Director of Sacramento Tree Foundation (Sacramento, CA)

The Vibrant Cities and Urban Forests: A National Call to Action Planning Committee was composed of passionate and motivated representatives from the USDA Forest Service, New York Restoration Project and numerous national urban forestry organizations and coalitions. These eleven planning committee members were tasked with reviewing and selecting the twenty-five task force members, as well as crafting the agenda for the April workshop in Washington, D.C. The on-going involvement of the planning committee member organizations will be essential to realizing the task force’s recommendations.

  • Jan Davis, USDA Forest Service
  • Alice Ewen, USDA Forest Service
  • Jennifer Hinrichs, Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition
  • Darin Johnson, formerly with New York Restoration Project
  • Jerri LaHaie, Society for Municipal Arborists
  • Leland Milstein and Carrie Gallagher, Alliance for Community Trees
  • Paul Ries, USDA Forest Service
  • Erika Svendsen, USDA Forest Service
  • Lynne M. Westphal, USDA Forest Service
  • Larry Wiseman, National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council

Facilitator: David Maddox, Sound Science

Staff: Sarah Pfeifer, formerly with New York Restoration Project; Christine Wisnewski, Sound Science

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