Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

2020 Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Cost Share Grant Program

USDA Forest Service Announces the 2020 National Urban and Community Forestry Grants for the Grant Category:

Creating and Enhancing Resilient Urban and Community Forests

The health and vitality of our urban & community forests are critical to all our Nation’s Forests. Communities often act as gateways for invasive pests and disease, and well managed community forests, especially when a part of shared stewardship across the landscape, can slow or even halt the spread before they infect neighboring private, state or National forests. Our forests are also under threat from natural disasters including wildland fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and landslides. Well managed forests are better prepared to withstand these threats, protecting lives, infrastructure, homes, habitats, water quality, economies, and social health and well-being.

Applicants were asked to address Urban Forest Resiliency Innovation and to identify their approach that would align with one or more of the goals in the National Ten Year Urban and Community Forestry Action Plan (2016-2026). Collaborative solutions may include but are not limited to research, prevention, planning, policy, preparedness, implementation, best management practices, recovery, and reforestation that promotes the resilience of our Nation’s urban & community forests.

Selected Grant Proposals were awarded $900,000 in Federal grant funds and were matched with total of $995,144 for a total funding of $1,895,144.

  1. Wildlife Habitat Council, Margaret O'Gorman, Crossing the Fence-Line: Connecting Corporate America to America's Communities through Public-private Forestry Programs.

    Abstract: The Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) with three decades of experience working at the intersection of corporate need and community value will illustrate that community forestry can be an effective “go-to” tool for the private sector that realizes multiple co-benefits for the community and that many public-private partnership models exist for replication across the country in communities of all types across all industry sectors. These efforts can satisfy the needs of communities especially high potential communities where impactful industries are historically located. This program will fill an existing resource gap for community forestry groups seeking to establish sustainable public-private partnerships. WHC will create a best-in-class approach connecting urban forestry groups, community members and leaders and corporate employees to local, state and national canopy and forestry goals, addressing local resiliency challenges and provide workforce development opportunities as well as biodiversity uplift. This approach will be based on new and existing community forestry efforts and will collect learning from three decades into a suite of publications to include toolkits, decision trees and guidance to help both companies and community forestry programs to think beyond their respective fence-lines for greater resiliency.

  2. University of Maryland, Jennifer Egan, Translating Urban and Community Forestry Human Health Evidence to Integrated Urban Planning and Policy.

    Abstract: Urban and community forestry professionals use evidence-based practices and policy guidelines to assess and evaluate tree and canopy health. A wealth of evidence exists about the importance of green space for human health; however urban forest best practices do not integrate forest health with broader public health policy and urban planning practices. This project bridges that gap. We will interpret, from empirical studies, the characteristics of urban forest practices that also promote human health and translate these characteristics into practical guidelines for urban planning and public health audiences. Guideline development will involve collaboration with a diverse set of national influencers in public health, urban forestry and urban planning, including a major non-traditional partner, the American Planning Association. Using structured and in-depth stakeholder engagement processes across these major disciplines, the product will provide the urban forestry, planning and public health communities-of-practice with actionable guidelines to integrate urban forests and human health. Resilient urban forest programs will result, as the project will build cross-discipline knowledge and strengthen support for urban forest funding. Our strategic, targeted and multi-media national technology transfer efforts will utilize social theories of innovation diffusion and social network analysis to amplify the adoption and impact of products.

  3. North Carolina State University, Lincoln Larson, Engaging Diverse Communities in Urban Greening Efforts: Lessons Learned and Pathways to Success.

    Abstract: Despite many benefits of urban greening, tree-planting programs in diverse communities nationwide often face strong local resistance, especially on private lands. This resistance impacts the success of initiatives such as Green Heart, an urban greening effort in Louisville, KY, designed to create healthier neighborhoods by encouraging tree planting to mitigate air pollution. Working with leaders of Green Heart, our project will investigate various factors (social and/or environmental) that influence the success of greening interventions and identify environmentally just practices to promote healthy urban communities across the US. Using Louisville as a case study, with lessons learned from other cities, we aim to: (1) Synthesize current state of knowledge regarding public support for urban greening across diverse communities; (2) Identify factors associated with tree-planting program success; (3) Examine public perceptions of relationships between urban trees, health, and neighborhood change; and (4) Define and share best practices to promote a national community of practice focused on equitable and inclusive urban greening. Our efforts will culminate in a “best practice” guide and toolkit, shared with a growing national community of practice promoting social equity in urban forestry. Ultimately, the project will identify strategies to promote urban greening with communities, not just within communities.

  4. Sustainable Resources Institute, Inc./Urban Wood Network, Kari Jo Divine, The Urban Wood Network - Driving Urban Wood Utilization from Coast to Coast.

    Abstract: To establish full circle urban forestry management, we must work cooperatively from arborist to consumer; a cohesive supply chain and consumer demand are essential to getting the highest value from our urban wood resources. The Urban Wood Network (UWN) will drive the urban wood industry forward by bringing stakeholders together to inform, collaborate, and connect to build community, business and consumer confidence. UWN is comprised of advocate, arborist, municipal, wood user and producer members from across the country who are committed to the ideals that urban trees benefit their communities most when they are growing strong, and that when these trees are removed due to death, disease, pests, or circumstance, their wood should be utilized to its highest use to maximize economic, environmental and societal benefits. This 3-year project will expand the U.S. urban forest economy by bringing industry stakeholders together to inform, collaborate, and connect to build community, business and consumer confidence in the urban wood industry thereby expanding urban wood markets which provide revenues and cost-savings to municipal urban forestry programs. UWN works to ensure urban trees can live on after they must be removed due to death, disease, pests, development or other circumstances, by utilizing their wood to its highest use to maximize economic, environmental and societal benefits for urban communities across the nation. Wise use of this urban wood resource through best practices can alleviate cost burdens on municipalities allowing realized savings to be used to enhance urban forest management to ensure healthy, diverse and resilient urban forests. UWN will work with partners to develop and improve markets for urban wood, assist in reducing cost burdens for municipalities, and increase opportunities for wood recycling. Local urban wood programs will: stimulate economies and create jobs; generate income through reduced material disposal; incentivize stable, productive urban forests; conserve non-urban forestland resources through increased urban tree utilization; and educate on sustainability and carbon sequestration.

  5. University of Tennessee, Dr. Denita Hadziabdic, Extending the Reach of Rapid Diagnostics with Detection Tools for Oak Wilt and Laurel Wilt Diseases in Urban Forests.

    Abstract: Rapid molecular detection of forest diseases is a critical need for diagnosticians and can lead to best management practices and informed decision-making by federal and state agencies. We propose to expand the utility of our novel Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) detection tool and adapt it for use in Laurel Wilt and Oak Wilt diagnosis. The pathogens causing these diseases are difficult to diagnose. External symptoms and signs of the fungi are often missing in diseased trees, especially during early infection. Symptoms in trees are often variable in appearance and are easily confused with abiotic causes. We will use species-specific microsatellite TaqMan probes to build a powerful disease screening tool that will reduce sample processing time. To do this, we will adapt our highly sensitive protocol, demonstrated for confirming TCD, to reveal the lower detection limits for fungi causing Oak and Laurel Wilt diseases using a conventional gel, a light source, and wavelength-restricting glasses with a TaqMan molecular probe assay. Arborists, urban foresters, regulatory agents, and diagnosticians can easily adopt this inexpensive technique to facilitate rapid Laurel and Oak Wilt diagnosis for their clients. This protocol can be readily adapted for rapid pest and pathogen detection of other complex disease systems.

  6. The Giving Grove, Inc. Erica Kratofil, Little Orchards, Big Impact: Growing a Collaborative National Urban Orchard Network to Improve Environmental Resiliency, Build Capacity and Increase Food, Security in High Potential Communities.

    Abstract: This project will create a network of six major metropolitan areas utilizing urban orchards to improve health and wellness in High Potential Communities while using green infrastructure to strengthen resiliency of urban communities. To accomplish this, funding will be used to add two new cities to Giving Grove’s network. In mid-June of 2020, the Board of Directors for Louisville Grows committed to joining The Giving Grove’s network, and Giving Grove is deep into discussions with potential partner organizations in both Chicago and Nashville. The Giving Grove expects that Louisville and either Chicago or Nashville will be the cities joining the network under this proposal. The two selected cities will plant approximately 700 total trees in approximately 58 total orchards in their first two years. These trees will be cared for by approximately 116 neighborhood-based, trained volunteers from High Potential Communities. Through this project, Giving Grove’s holistic urban orcharding processes will be validated in six different metropolitan areas and packaged with the intention to replicate the program in 14 additional cities.