The USDA Forest Service today announced the award of more than $500,000 in federal grants to benefit the nation’s urban and community forests. Organizations in nine communities will match those funds with over $547,000 for research and education projects for urban forests. “This year’s awards once again highlight the opportunity for us to partner with the private sector to work together to establish sustainable urban forests for all communities,” said ForestService Chief Dale Bosworth. Recipients of the cost-share grants were selected in a competitive process, based on criteria developed by the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council (NUCFAC). The NUCFAC is a 15-member advisory council created by the 1990 Farm Bill to provide advice to the Secretary of Agriculture on urban and community forestry. Council members include representatives from communities, universities, non-profit forestry and conservation citizen organizations, landscape and design consultants, the forest product or nursery industry, professional renewable natural resource organizations, and USDA. The Council reviews the proposals and makes recommendations to the Forest Service, which awards the grants.
“As our cities develop and grow, urban and community forests become even more important,” according to Deborah Gangloff, chair of NUCFAC and executive director of American Forests, Washington, D.C. “These grants will improve the success of our urban forestry programs by providing both professionals and the public with the information and educational tools to understand and appreciate the social, economic and ecological values of our urban forests to the quality of our environment and the quality of life.” The grants fund projects in three categories involving minority and underserved populations, communication programs, and research and technology development. Previous grants resulted in developing community forest plans, methods for identifying the costs and benefits of trees in communities, ways to conserve energy, techniques for communities to care for their forests, and educational programs to promote the importance of urban and community forestry. Since NUCFAC's establishment, the Forest Service has supported 110 competitive cost-share proposals that promote urban and community forestry nationwide. Proposals are submitted in a variety of categories and announced by NUCFAC in the fall of each year.