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Yaël Ksander
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Mayor John Hamilton Joins Elected Officials Nationwide to Demand Protection of Forests

Bloomington, Ind. - In the wake of Hurricane Florence and wildfires that have swept the country, Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton has joined over 200 organizations, scientists, and elected officials in releasing the #Stand4Forests platform demanding the protection of U.S. forests as a vital climate solution.

“The City of Bloomington considers it our responsibility to play a leading role in advancing policy that promotes greater sustainability,” said Hamilton.  “Given their capacity to store carbon, maintain ecosystems, and promote biodiversity, our country’s forests are essential to life as we know it. I hope residents will consult our City’s proposed Sustainability Action Plan, which outlines our commitment to urban forestry, along with all the initiatives we’ve undertaken to ensure quality of life for generations to come.”   After incorporating residents’ input, the plan will be presented to the Bloomington Common Council for review, comment, and adoption in late 2018.

“Climate science shows that we cannot stop a climate catastrophe without scaling up the protection of forests around the world, including in the United States,” states the platform, which was released this week.  “Therefore, the U.S. must be a global leader in not only committing to phase out fossil fuel use but also in protecting our forests.” Signatories include nearly 40 mayors from across the country, organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club, and leading climate scientists and advocates (see the full list of signatories here).

The platform includes recommendations for protection of public lands from commercial logging, accountability for and reduction of emissions from the forestry sector, and a development of economic transition strategies for communities dependent on logging, among other actions.  The platform also acknowledges the disproportionate extent to which communities of color, indigenous communities, low-income, and/or rural populations bear the impacts of climate change as well as the health, economic, and social costs associated with industrial practices.

“I encourage Bloomington residents to join the list of petitioners at Stand4Forests,” continued Hamilton.  “As an official tree-loving city, we should use our voice to shape state and national policy to slow deforestation and climate change.”

The first city in Indiana to have been designated a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation, Bloomington has maintained that designation since 1984 through its Urban Forestry Plan, dedicated to the health of the more than 12,000 trees on city streets.  A Tree City is defined by the presence of a City tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a budget of at least two dollars per capita on urban forestry, and an annual Arbor Day celebration. To commemorate the city’s bicentennial year, the Department of Parks and Recreation planted 200 trees at parks, schools, and other public places around the city, and offered tulip poplars -- Indiana’s state tree -- for sale to residents.   As part of the celebration, a bicentennial tree groves have been planned at the northern point of Miller-Showers Park and at Switchyard Park, opening in late fall 2019.  More information about the Bicentennial Memorial Tree Project is available here.