USDA Forest Service Makes Historic Investments in Equitable Access to Trees and Nature in CA, HI, and Pacific Islands through Urban and Community Forestry Grants

Release Date: 

Almost $150 million in grants to California, Hawai'i, and Pacific Islands

VALLEJO, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today the USDA Forest Service is investing more than $1 billion in nearly 400 grant awards nationwide to increase access to trees and the social, health and economic benefits they provide.

Of the total funding, the Forest Service awarded just over $150 million to community-based organizations, Tribes, municipal and state governments, nonprofit partners, universities and other eligible entities in the Pacific Southwest Region. Grants include over $102.8 million to California, $42.5 million to Hawai'i, and $4.7 million to Pacific Islands of Palau and the Northern Mariana Islands. These investments will plant and maintain trees in disadvantaged urban communities, tackle the climate crisis, and support jobs and workforce development.

The funding, made possible by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, is part of a historic $1.5 billion investment in the Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. The funding supports local communities and the organizations that serve them as they work to increase tree cover in disadvantaged spaces and boost equitable access to nature.

“These investments arrive as cities across the country experience record-breaking heatwaves that have grave impacts on public health, energy consumption, and overall well-being,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are supporting communities in becoming more resilient to climate change and combatting extreme heat with the cooling effects of increased urban tree canopy, while also supporting employment opportunities and professional training that will strengthen local economies.”

Overall, the Urban and Community Forestry Grant program will fund 43 projects in California, 9 projects in Hawai'i, and 2 projects in the Pacific Islands.

“Region 5 is excited and ready for this monumental investment in our communities, in our people, and in our green infrastructure,” shared Miranda Hutten, Urban and Community Forestry Program Manager for the Pacific Southwest Region. “We look forward to engaging with partners from all across California, Hawai'i and the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands and how we can better bring community tree benefits to reality.”

The Urban and Community Forestry Program supports the Justice40 Initiative, which aims to ensure that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved and lack access to trees and nature.

All grant funding will flow to disadvantaged communities thanks to our applicant tool, which used the White House Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) to identify eligible communities. CEJST is a geospatial mapping tool that identifies communities faced with significant burdens, such as climate change, energy, health, housing, legacy pollution, transportation, water and wastewater, and workforce development.

The Forest Service supports vibrant and healthy urban communities through supporting healthy urban forests. More information about the funded proposals, as well as announcements about the grant program, is available on the Forest Service website.

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