New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently celebrated the awarding of roughly $13.5 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program, originally funded under President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), to help improve equitable access to community forests and designated urban green spaces through clean energy, advancement of environmental justice, and the creation of further economic opportunities across New York state.
“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,” Hochul stated of the funding. “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.”
The $13.5 million allocation designated to New York will be managed by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and will be dispersed through grant opportunities via New York State’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.
“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,” remarked Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos of the funding. “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.”
The DEC will soon open a grant application period for the IRA funding, with an estimated $10 million in grants slated to directly support Community Forest Management Plan Implementation, while another $2.9 million will directly support Ash Tree Management, with the remainder of funds going towards grant administration. No applicant match will be required for full projects in communities deemed disadvantaged, and the maximum request for each application is set at $500,000.
“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,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack commented of the funding. “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.”
The DEC will host a virtual information session on Tuesday, October 24, 2023, running from 1 in the afternoon until 2:30 in the afternoon, to offer up details. Registration information can be found here.
“More green space means cleaner air, a better environment, and improved quality of life for neighborhoods across New York,” noted Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer of the funding. “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.”