Historic Funding to Expand Public Access to Trees and Green Spaces In Disadvantaged Communities, Increase Urban Tree Cover, and Support New York’s Aggressive Climate Goals
Governor Kathy Hochul announced today that New York State was awarded $13.5 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program. Funded through President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, this grant program is designed to increase equitable access to trees and green spaces in urban and community forests to support building a clean energy economy, advance environmental justice, and create economic opportunity.
“New York’s urban and community forests play an extremely important role in our environment and ensuring that all neighborhoods and communities have access to the benefits that trees provide, including in addressing the threats of our changing climate,” Governor Hochul said. “Thanks to this historic level of funding announced under President Biden and his Administration, we take another major step towards investing in and improving our environment and enhancing community green space for the next generations.”
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “This program is yet another way that the Biden-Harris Administration is investing in America and ensuring that all people, regardless of ZIP code or neighborhood, have equitable access to the benefits that trees and green spaces provide. 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.”
This significant funding for New York is part of a $1.5-billion federal investment in Urban and Community Forestry projects across the country, including more than $73.5 million for 28 forestry projects across the state that can be found here. This historic support highlights the importance of urban forests in combatting climate change through cooling air, buildings, and pavement; reducing stormwater runoff; improving air quality; and much more. New York State’s $13.5 million allocation will be managed by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and provide grant opportunities through the State’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “I commend President Biden for this significant investment in our urban and community environments and for the Biden Administration’s continued support of New York’s ongoing efforts to combat climate change. Today’s announcement marks New York State’s largest-ever grant funding opportunity in support of urban and community forests and these grants will help improve the health, safety, and resilience of communities most in need. I encourage eligible government entities, municipalities, Indian Nations, and not-for-profits to participate in DEC’s upcoming virtual information session to learn more about this historic opportunity.”
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said, “More green space means cleaner air, a better environment, and improved quality of life for neighborhoods across New York. I am proud to help deliver this $13.5 million federal investment to grow our urban forests across the Empire State. I fought hard to plant this funding in the Inflation Reduction Act – which has already delivered $73+ million for communities in every corner of the state from Buffalo to Long Island – so that New Yorkers could have access to funding needed to breathe new life into underserved communities while actively creating more green jobs and supporting a clean energy economy.”
Representative Adriano Espaillat said, "Green spaces have an immediate impact on the health and well-being of our communities and the individuals and families who live near them. I commend New York Governor Hochul on this latest initiative allocating these federal funds that I helped secure through the Inflation Reduction Act to support the expansion of green locations around our state. By doing so, we are expanding locations for recreation and outdoor fun, encouraging families to stay active, and keeping our communities healthy.”
DEC will soon be opening a grant application period for nearly $13 million of the IRA funding. Ten million dollars in grants will support Community Forest Management Plan Implementation, and $2.9 million will support Ash Tree Management. The remainder of the funds awarded will support grant administration. There is no applicant match required for the federal grant program for full projects in disadvantaged communities. The maximum request is $500,000 per application. The open application period for the grant opportunity will be announced in coming weeks.
DEC is holding a virtual information session on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. to provide information on this new, limited-time funding opportunity to support urban and community forestry projects in disadvantaged communities. The information session will cover eligible applicants and projects, application requirements and scoring, and other information that will help applicants plan their projects. Register for this webinar here.
For more information on DEC’s Urban and Community Forestry program, visit the DEC website.