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Announcing urban and community forestry funding

A picture of Forest Service Chief Randy Moore.
Chief Randy Moore

The Forest Service is proud to manage the only dedicated urban forestry program in the federal government. We know that by investing in our urban forests, we invest in the health and wellness of communities. And today, we are bringing greater recognition to this fact by announcing a historic investment in our nation’s urban tree canopy.

In an event hosted in New Jersey this morning, USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment Dr. Homer Wilkes; Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey; John Podesta, senior advisor to the president for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation; and Beattra Wilson, Forest Service assistant director for Urban and Community Forestry, joined with community partners to announce that the Forest Service will offer more than $1 billion in grants to increase equitable access to trees and green spaces in urban and community forests where more than 84% of Americans live, work and play.

As Secretary Vilsack said as part of today’s announcement: “Whether it’s reducing heat stress or creating jobs in tree-planting and maintenance, this grant funding will support local communities and partners who are working on the ground to advance environmental justice by mitigating the impact of climate change on communities who lack tree cover in urban spaces while giving kids more safe spaces to play outdoors.”

Along with the open grant funding opportunity, we will be providing up to $250 million to states and territories to further their efforts to support urban communities through equitable access to trees and the benefits they provide. This initial round of funding will bolster competitive sub-grants, support state projects, provide technical assistance and assist states with related services.

The funding for these efforts is made possible by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and is part of a 10-year, $1.5 billion investment in the Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. The grant funding is available to community-based organizations, tribes, state and municipal governments, nonprofit partners, universities and other eligible groups as they work to increase tree cover in urban spaces and boost equitable access to nature.

Working hand-in-hand with our partners, we will invest in communities from the ground up, improving hundreds of millions of acres of urban and community forests across the U.S. By working closely with partners, municipal governments, local nonprofits, tribes and others, we will ensure that all people have access to green spaces and trees where they live and work.

This grant funding aligns with the Justice40 initiative, which aims to ensure that at least 40% of the overall benefits of federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.

The Forest Service will invest in proposals that extend beyond planting new trees. These will include maintaining and managing urban forests and add community engagement in local urban forest planning. By investing in these forests, we improve community and urban forest resilience to climate change, extreme heat, forest pests, diseases and extreme weather. We also help create jobs and stimulate new economic opportunities.

Today’s investments go beyond planting trees in tree wells. They will support lasting community relationships and engagements that strengthen communities. That’s what this agency is all about: working across boundaries to serve the American people.  

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