SPECIAL NOTE: The Dornix Park License Agreement will be on the agenda at the next Big Timber City Council Meeting November 7, 7pm at the SGCHS Cafeteria.
Monday evening October 24th 2011 at the Dugout, the Big Timber City Council opened the door for more DNRC rules, more Arbor Day rules and celebrations, more matching funds, and more control over the property of its citizens. If you can’t have a 20 million dollar park, you lower your ambitions and socialize the trees. The vote seems to be a small thing, just accepting money and rules from outside. But Tree City USA is not small. It is a program of the Arbor Day Foundation which is a part of the International Sustainable Development (SD)/Smart Growth (SG) movement. Becoming a Tree City USA is one of the many ways the promoters of Sustainable Development/Smart Growth get their foot in the door of local communities like Big Timber. Remember “start small” and local. Smart Growth gets control by implementing rules, restrictions and regulations. This includes laws that regulate urban forest planning such as those encouraged by the Tree City USA designation. Sustainable Development is promoted through public-private partnerships, governments, non-governmental organizations, foundations, non-profits and sustainability grant recipients. The Arbor Day Foundation, which sponsors Tree City USA, partners with The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest conservation Non-Government Organization (NGO). You can read about it by clicking on this link: Nature Conservancy or nature conspiracy?
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is involved with many other programs besides Tree City USA, such as preserving tropical rain forests in South America and planting hardwood trees in the Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. Another one of the Arbor Day Foundation’s partners is the American Planning Association (APA) which teams up directly with ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability). Both The Nature Conservancy and ICLEI are among the most important NGOs at the UN. They both worked to develop Agenda 21 and are now members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United States have designated specific days during the year as Environmental Holidays. One of these days is “Arbor Day”. Celebrating Arbor Day annually is one of the requirements for becoming a Tree City USA. The UNEP has a number of partners in their “billion tree campaign” and although Arbor Day is not mentioned on this page, they partner with The Nature Conservancy in South America and Belize. The international focus of Sustainable Development is the United States. Why? Because the US is the only country in the world based on the ideals of private property. Private property is not compatible with the collectivist premise of Sustainable Development (SD). Public/private partnerships are the major tool to advance the SD agenda. The bait is grant money given to communities like Big Timber for short term benefits.
Once the agenda gets underway, Smart Growth and Sustainable Development supporters begin to issue rules, regulations, permit requirements, and all types of creeping jurisdiction over land use. The goal is to plan and control the development of human settlements on all levels, from environmental justice, social justice, education and diet to tree trimming. Tree City USA status is just the first seemingly innocent step in that process. The Arbor Day connection to the American Planning Association is important because zoning and subdivision ordinances have the most impact on land development. Smart Growth legislation has elevated comprehensive planning from largely advisory status to the legal basis for local programs or actions affecting land use. The language of these laws is shaping the very nature of urban forests across the country and that language has found its’ way into Big Timber.
Advocates of government planning have visions of a new kind of America. All of these NGOs are interlocked. In some cases, they simply have the same philosophy. In many other instances, they share directors and donors. In one way or another, Yellowstone Business Partnership (YBP) is related to all of the organizations mentioned above. Their intention to develop a regional governance structure is in the process of being advanced and established. Their approach is bound up with a host of appealing phrases like sustainable development, smart growth, etc. YBP knows that designations such as Tree City USA and ordinances such as Complete Streets (in Billings) allow them to receive and distribute grant money. Again, money is the bait.
Earth Day which is one of those on the list of “Environmental Holidays” on the United Nations Environment Programme website along with Arbor Day. Yellowstone Business Partnership celebrates and promotes both. They partnered with The Nature Conservancy in 2005 in order to “assess the prospects for integrating sustainable construction techniques, responsible land development, and resource conservation across the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem”. In other words, to promote SD/SG.
The two dollars a head spent for Big Timber to be a ‘Tree City’ is the first fee the citizens of Big Timber will pay in order to conform to the SD/SG agenda. It will not be the last. Of local interest: Mayor Taylor applied for a $150 grant (w/35% match) from the Arbor Day Foundation in January 2006. In order to fill grant requirements, she made an Arbor Day proclamation in conjunction with receiving the grant. How did she pay for the matching funds? She applied for another $150 in 2007. This was at the same time she was requesting an adjustment in the Hard Rock Mining Board agreement to steer the mine funds to Dornix and soon thereafter received $53,200 from Stillwater Mining.
It was around June, 2008 when Crystal Coffey-Avey and the Horizons “visioning” meeting took place. The Community Garden was one of the results. Through Sweet Grass Health and Wellness, they asked for tax-deductible donations so they could develop the garden and “plant some shrubs and trees for the Arbor Day Opening Celebration”. “We continue to plan to have things up and running in time to celebrate with tree planting on Arbor Day (4/25)” wrote Shirley Layne & Suzanne Drinkard for the Sweet Grass Food Action Group.
In 2010, a member of SGCCI wrote this in a letter to the editor of the Big Timber Pioneer: “Do you know your “urban forest” is going to be “governed” by a formal board? The Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the US Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters sponsor what is called “Tree City USA” memberships. To earn this designation, it is necessary to appoint a tree board, develop a community tree ordinance, and allocate a minimum of $2 per capita (population: 1,740 x $2) to the community forestry program. There are additional requirements to achieve the Tree City certification – the city is required to have a yearly Arbor Day Observance and Proclamation, provide an annual work plan and budget showing the line items for forestry-related expenditures- all requirements to prove we have met performance standards. We are “encouraged to implement tree management programs to improve the urban forestry ecosystem”.
Since the city’s founding in 1883 the citizens of Big Timber have planted, maintained and enjoyed all the beautiful trees currently established in our city without having an outside agency judging and manipulating our behavior. How is it that, since its inception, Big Timber citizens have done so well? Do we really need another board or regulating body telling us what to do with our trees? Do we really need more government oversight? I don’t know about you, but I think we do a fine job with our City’s trees with our current Ordinance without the interference of The Arbor Day Foundation, the US Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.”
In 2011, another resident of Big Timber wrote in a letter to the editor: “Urban Forest my left foot! Big Timber is about as urban as my little cabin in the mountains…Go ahead and count trees, go ahead and plant trees, just quit trying to make it some government program and make others pay for it. We don’t need a Tree Board any more than we need a Grass Board. I plant my own trees, work on my own car and built my own house. If I need help, I’ll ask for it, thanks.”
Big Timber’s charm and comfort depends in part on healthy and plentiful trees. Like most community resources, those trees are dependent on individuals. Since their first sprout, the trees of our city have been the responsibility of Big Timber citizens. There is no need for any agency at any level to usurp that privilege and duty.