The Louisiana Urban Forestry Council (LUFC) is a non-profit volunteer organization that promotes urban and community forestry principles that can be incorporated into the planning, development and implementation process at the local government level. The LUFC encourages local governments and citizens to take proactive measures in planting and conserving trees to assure that future generations live in an established viable urban forest.
Founded in 1991, the Council is governed by a 12-member board of directors consisting of urban foresters, arborists, planners, landscape architects, and other individuals active in the urban forest field. As a statewide organization, it collaborates with other green groups, all levels of governments, individual citizens and with corporations and businesses.
The mission of the Louisiana Urban Forestry Council is to recognize, promote, and improve the value and benefits of our urban forest resource through management, education, research, training and conservation.
Funding the LUFC and its various projects is derived mostly from the "Urban and Community Forestry" grant program, as well as memberships and donations.
The Louisiana Urban Forestry Council conducts workshops, conferences and tree-related programs and provides a number of services, most of which are free of charge. It acts as a clearinghouse of information related to urban forestry issues. Additionally, it assists municipal leaders who may have questions regarding their urban forests. Also, the Council educates the public through workshops and conferences. Finally, it promotes the elements of TREE CITY USA, a highly-coveted designation of communities around the country.
The following is a list of products and services that are provided by the LUFC:
LDAF officials and volunteers conduct tree assessments and inventories in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina; April, 2006.
Working in concert with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the LUFC collaborates with numerous governmental, private, non-profit and educational organizations. Additionally, its board, advisory board and membership are comprised of landscape architects, urban foresters, planners, local and state government officials, and interested individuals. Also, the LUFC has similar organizations in other states and can access a network of professionals in national organizations.
With a mailing list of over 1500 people throughout Louisiana and the nation, "The Canopy" provides valuable urban forestry information and highlights Louisiana communities implementing urban forestry programs. The Canopy is published quarterly.
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A volunteer waters freshly-potted trees at Parkway Partners Program site in New Orleans; March, 2006.
The Louisiana Urban Forestry Council assists the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry's "Urban and Community Grant" Program. This program is geared toward establishing new and strengthening existing community forestry programs in Louisiana. Additionally, this program strives to increase the number and diversity of individuals informed and involved in community forestry endeavors. Since 2004, the Louisiana Urban Forestry Council has been the recipient of over $370,000 in grant funding from the "Urban and Community Forestry Grant" program, the Alliance for Community Trees and Chevron North America.
The sign indicating the site of the Chevron Tree Farm in New Orleans' City Park. Chevron donated $60,000 to the LUFC to renovate and restore the tree nursery in an attempt to reforest New Orleans and the area following Katrina;
Prior to the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry maintained and operated a tree nursery in New Orleans' City Park. LDAF personnel used the site to grow seedlings and to distribute trees to public agencies. Flood waters decimated the tree nursery and destroyed all trees and tree-nursery equipment. In the months after the storm, the LDAF no longer had the capacity to operate the site, and the LUFC took over the tree farm and its operations.
During this same time, Chevron North America officials based in New Orleans were looking for a way to "give back" to the community and decided to fund the renovations to the tree farm. Chevron officials met with LUFC and LDAF representatives in the middle of 2006 to discuss a partnership. Chevron donated $60,000 to the LUFC to renovate the tree farm. The tree farm was then named the "Chevron Tree Farm" and is a partnership between the LUFC and Chevron emerged. Over 400 volunteers helped to pot over 3,500 tree seedlings during a November 2006 event, which was one of the largest volunteer events held in post-Katrina New Orleans. Additional Chevron volunteers assisted with other projects throughout 2007.
Volunteers from New York assist with maintenance of Chevron Tree Farm;
Also, the LUFC was awarded another "Urban and Community Forestry" grant in the amount of $25,000 in 2007 to fund the maintenance and operation of the Chevron tree farm in New Orleans City Park. This funding enabled the LUFC to enter into a contract with an individual to maintain the Chevron Tree Farm on a weekly basis. The work consists of grass cutting, tree maintenance, program preparations and other tasks consisted with the successful operation of the Tree Farm.
While no longer active in the operation of the Chevron Tree Farm, LDAF personnel continue to assist with technical assistance.
Brief synopsis of Chevron Tree Farm operations:
USDA officials and LUFC representatives planting a tree in the yard of a new homeowner;
Working with representatives from the Louisiana-based offices of the USDA, LUFC representatives recognize and celebrate Homeownership Month by planting trees in the yards of new homeowners that were funded through one of the USDA Homeownership Programs. The events are held in June and in various parts of Louisiana on the day that the home is officially transferred to the new homeowner. The LUFC has helped to plant over 30 trees over the last 2 years in the yards of new homeowners. The homeowner pledges to maintain the tree for the rest of the natural life of the tree.
The Louisiana Urban Forestry Council maintains a website that delivers urban forestry information, links to other related information, and serves as a database for contacts. The website www.louisianaurbanforestry.org is updated regularly with information than can benefit visitors to the site.
LUFC representatives Chad Danos (left) and Steve Shurtz (right) stand next to Lockport Mayor Richard Champagne and Terrebonne Parish Tree Board member Sybil Guidry following a BGC program in Houma;
The LUFC created the "Building Green Cities" program as a means of delivering pertinent and meaningful resources and assistance directly to those Louisiana communities striving to develop sustainable urban forestry programs. For several years, the LUFC has worked to develop outreach mechanisms to assist the many towns and cities that are wrestling with environmental and quality-of-life issues that tend to accompany growth and economic development. The goal of the program is to deliver timely information, presented by people familiar with the issues, which can be incorporated into the planning and development process at the local government level.
Since 2004, the LUFC has sponsored Building Green Cities Programs in New Iberia (twice), Pineville, Ruston, Springfield/Ponchatoula and the Houma/Thibodaux area. It is estimated that over 160 people, representing local governments, developers, arborists, landscape architects, and members of the general public have attended these workshops.
Although the program format will be customized to meet the specific needs of your community, the following presentations are examples of topics offered:
The Fall 2007 Bayou Region Citizen Forester "Tree Troopers;"
The goal of the Citizen Forester Program is to provide a pool of volunteers for local municipalities, school districts and neighborhood associations throughout Louisiana. Modeled off Missouri ForestReleaf's "Tree Keepers," the Citizen Forester Program provides trained volunteers to lead tree planting, pruning and maintenance projects in Louisiana communities. Graduates of the program are called "Tree Troopers."
The Citizen Forester Program first started in Louisiana in 2003 by Friends of Jefferson the Beautiful in Metairie, LA, through the implementation of an "Urban and Community Forestry" grant. Since then, a number of Citizen Forester Programs have been held again in Metairie, as well as in New Orleans, Covington, Pineville, the Bayou Region (Terrebonne/Lafourche/St. Mary Parish); and, in Ville Platte. The Louisiana Urban Forestry Council fully supports the program through partial funding and organizational techniques. It is the goal of the LUFC to have three Citizen Forester Programs held in Louisiana each year.
Local municipalities are responsible for the preservation, protection and maintenance of all city trees. Unfortunately, economic realities have limited the ability of some communities to provide enough attention to young trees. Research has shown that the average street-tree lives less than ten years due to the harsh conditions of the urban environment. Small and newly planted trees have the highest mortality rate and, therefore, need the most help. The committed volunteers of the Citizen Forester Program are able to address these needs. Since it does not take a college degree in forestry to make a difference, anyone can prune dead or broken branches, water during dry periods, mulch around trees and monitor urban forest health. Addressing these basic needs during the early years in the life of a tree increases the odds that it will survive and thrive.
Tree Troopers receive training in environmental awareness and basic arboricultural principals. Through nine hours of classroom and three hours of outdoor training, participants learn about tree identification, site suitability, proper planting techniques, after planting care and pruning. Upon graduating from the program, Tree Troopers commit to 20 hours of volunteer work on municipal- or public-related projects in their home area.
Using media resources throughout the state, the Louisiana Urban Forestry Council issues informative press releases that educate the citizens of Louisiana about urban forestry programs, grants and issues that empower citizens on how to best manage their trees and become active in promoting urban forestry in their local communities.
The Louisiana Urban Forestry Council considers all public officials partners in promoting urban forestry. One way that the LUFC is able to disseminate information to local leaders is by having a strong relationship with the Louisiana Municipal Association, which is comprised of mayors and council members from all municipalities around the state. Representatives of the LUFC attend the LMA's annual conference every August and man a booth that has the latest information on urban forestry. LUFC representatives are able to meet directly with municipal leaders and discuss the benefits of an urban forestry program, why urban forestry should be a part of their infrastructure, and answer any tree-related questions that they may have. Additionally, a representative on the LMA serves on the Advisory Board of the LUFC.
The Louisiana Urban Forestry Council fully supports the National Arbor Day Foundation's TREE CITY USA program by working with communities around the state to verify their fulfillment of the program's requirements.
Communities that meet certain standards are recognized as TREE CITY USA communities. The TREE CITY USA program is designed to recognize those communities that effectively manage their public tree resources and to encourage the implementation of community tree management based on four TREE CITY USA Standards. These four standards provide structure for a community forestry program, require that program to demonstrate success based on the judgment of the state forester's office, and provide for an awareness and appreciation of trees among the residents of the community.
The four standards of the TREE CITY USA program are as follow:
The following Louisiana communities are current TREE CITY USA designees:
LUFC-award winning submission from Vinton, LA;
The LUFC recognizes individuals and organizations who are improving urban forestry programs with their communities with an annual awards program. Award-winning projects offer worthy examples for others to emulate.
The Louisiana Urban Forestry Council has an excellent performance record in regard to interacting with other nonprofit organizations and with governmental units. Through various training programs, the responses to calls for assistance, and generous tree give-away programs, LUFC has gained the confidence and admiration of innumerable persons, agencies, and organizations. This would include the following:
See calendar, first day of the month.