Advocacy Day 2016

Each year, ASLA advocates travel from across the country to Washington, DC to advocate for policy issues important to the landscape architecture profession. During their congressional visits, landscape architects strive to raise the visibility of the profession with legislators and key staff, and educate them on the many ways that landscape architects provide solutions to a myriad of problems facing our nation. 

On May 18-21, VTASLA Chapter Trustee Ann Milovsoroff, President-Elect Jim Donovan, and President Hannah Loope traveled to Washington DC to participate in ASLA Advocacy Day. ASLA’s Advocacy Day brings together Chapter representatives from across the country to meet with their members of Congress to urge support of legislation related and important to landscape architecture. 

This year, two major pieces of legislation became the focus for advocacy:  The National Park Service (NPS) Centennial Challenge, and retaining green infrastructure as part of all future transportation projects. 2016 is the 100th Anniversary of America’s National Park System, and Congress will vote on providing support for the NPS Centennial Challenge, which would guarantee federal funding that would be matched by private donations to finance key projects and educational programs for National Parks across the country. Funding these projects and programs would help to protect our treasured national landscapes for future generations and create visitor education programs to encourage future generations to be stewards of our public land, historic sites, and cultural heritage.

In addition, this year’s legislation also draws focus to the design of resilient streets and the creation of transportation networks that include vegetation management.  Currently, a House bill (H.R. 2606) threatens to completely remove funding for vegetation and green infrastructure from all future federally-funded transportation projects.  Benefits of green infrastructure in major transportation projects include cost-effective and improved stormwater management and life extension of aging utilities (gray infrastructure), as well as improved water quality, groundwater recharge, and flood protection.  Native vegetation in public rights-of-way promote pollinators that protect our food supply and diversify ecosystems.  Green infrastructure projects also reduce construction and maintenance costs and boost local economies by creating jobs, and support small businesses by attracting development and increasing property values.  All these benefits are at risk in the proposed bill by eliminating integrated vegetation management from the scope of future transportation projects.

Your Vermont Chapter representatives met with staff from the offices of Senators  Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy, and Representative Peter Welch, to urge Congressional authorization and funding for the National Parks Centennial Challenge and to oppose any legislation that limits the scope of green infrastructure for future transportation projects.  In Vermont, both the Marsh-Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park and the Appalachian Trail receive federal funding, bringing over 35,000 visitors to Vermont and more than $2.5 million in the local economy. We also asked for a vote in opposition to any legislation that would remove green infrastructure from future transportation bills.
 
The removal of green infrastructure will threaten the protection of Vermont’s waterways and downstream neighbors, weaken our aging gray infrastructure, limit our economy in both job creation and tourism, and hurt small businesses– all which go against Vermont’s values, culture, and way of life.  We received ready assurances from the staff of Senator Sanders, Senator Leahy, and Representative Welch that they supported the Centennial Challenge funding efforts, and would not support any measure seeking to eliminate green infrastructure from transportation projects.

As in previous years, our Vermont congressional delegation was in complete agreement on all of ASLA’s national agenda items. A big thank you to our Vermont members of Congress and their staff for supporting ASLA’s efforts and taking the time to discuss these critical issues with us!

Follow the link to learn more about ASLA Advocacy Day.

 




Check out these great videos to help with your advocacy efforts!

Leveraging the Landscape to Manage Water from ASLA on Vimeo

 

From Industrial Wasteland to Community Park from ASLA on Vimeo.