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Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Commissioner Basil Seggos of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) unveiled a substantial investment today, with grant awards totaling $978,820 earmarked for urban forest assessment and planning initiatives throughout New York State.

These projects aim to furnish urban forest managers with a foundational comprehension of current urban forest conditions, fostering strategies for assessing community forest requirements and ensuring the equitable dispersion of forest benefits.

Commissioner Seggos emphasized, “Healthy urban and community forests play a pivotal role in delivering myriad environmental, economic, and social benefits, including air pollution reduction, enhanced wildlife habitat, watershed protection, flood mitigation, increased property values, and improved public health. DEC’s sustained investments through the State’s Environmental Protection Fund underscore our commitment to fostering thriving forests and the well-being of our communities.”

Marking the commencement of Round 16, the Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) Grants focus on the Tree Inventory and Community Forest Management Plan categories. Out of 28 applications, 18 projects were selected for funding based on criteria such as cost-effectiveness, robust project planning, strategic partnerships, support for disadvantaged communities, and the inclusion of outreach and education components.

These urban forestry grants align with DEC’s ongoing endeavors to combat climate change, environmental degradation, and promote environmental justice.

The funding, sourced from the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), witnessed a notable increase from $1 to $3 million in the 2022-2023 budget specifically allocated for UCF grants. Over the past 12 years, New York State has disbursed over $14 million in urban forestry grants, supporting projects with a total value exceeding $20 million.

In a significant win for the environment, Governor Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders included a record-breaking $400 million in the enacted 2023-24 State Budget, marking the highest-ever funding level in the program’s history.

While these EPF grants contribute significantly, the application window for New York State’s federal Inflation Reduction Act Urban and Community Forestry Grant opportunities remains open until January 31 at 2 p.m.

Eligible parties can apply for the Community Forest Management Plan Implementation in Disadvantaged Communities ($10 million available) or the Ash Tree Management in Disadvantaged Communities ($2.9 million available) by visiting the DEC’s website. Further announcements for Round 16, covering the Tree Maintenance and Tree Planting categories, are expected in 2024.

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