We may only be three months into the year, but the Science and Policy team has been busy! For 7 weeks straight, Casey Trees staff ran to and from the John Wilson Building to testify on District agencies’ performance over the past year.
Just like with any other job, agencies are subject to an annual performance review, where residents from around the District can come and talk to the D.C. Council about how they think an agency did over the past year and whether or not they met the goals they had set for themselves.
This year, Casey Trees commented on the performance of 15(!) different agencies, from new ones like the Office of the Chief Technology Officer and the State Board of Education, to ones like the Department of Energy and Environment and Department of Transportation, which we’ve been attending for years.
We advocated for numerous things, but all of our asks fell into four main categories: making sure all trees have equal protection under the law, giving every student in the District access to environmental education, increasing agency collaboration for better protection of our trees and green spaces and building a more resilient D.C.
In addition to submitting 15 sets of comments, Casey Trees staff attended eight hearings. In January, staff attended the Performance Oversight hearings for the Department of Energy and Environment and Department of Transportation. At these hearings, we advocated to Councilmember Mary Cheh and the Committee on Transportation and Environment for the amending the Urban Forest Preservation Act to include all trees with a circumference of 44 inches or larger and increasing incentives to protect existing trees during development. We also advocated to Councilmember Brandon Todd at the Committee on Government Operations’ Performance Oversight Hearing for the Office of the Chief Technology Officer for data that D.C. published be clearer.
In February, we spoke with Councilmembers Trayon White, Kenyan McDuffie, Robert White and David Grosso about the performance of the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Office of Planning, the Office of Zoning, the Department of General Services and the Office of the State Superintendent for Education. At these hearings we asked for more trees to be added in our parks, for the Zoning Code to be updated to increase sustainability, to protect as many trees as we can during developments and for students across the District to have access to environmental education.
All in all, it was an eventful and successful advocacy effort by the Casey Trees staff and Certified Tree Advocates and we are excited to do it all over again with the Budget Oversight hearings starting at the end of March.
If you would like to learn more about what was presented, you can check out all the Performance Oversight comments submitted. You too could advocate for District trees in front of the Council (or others) when you become an advocate with Casey Trees!