Elevating greenery, community engagement along waterside parks
Evanston has secured an $802,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service Agency with the aim of enhancing the well-being of urban forest parks adjacent to Evanston's Northshore Channel.
The funding will be channeled through the Urban and Community Forestry Grant program, which is set to support 385 initiatives across the nation, all geared towards increasing accessibility to green spaces and trees, particularly in underserved communities. This substantial financial commitment is underpinned by the Inflation Reduction Act, with the USDA contributing a total of $1.5 billion.
Over the course of the next five years, Evanston intends to utilize this grant to carry out essential tasks, including tree pruning, the removal of hazardous trees and invasive buckthorns, as well as extensive tree and shrub planting efforts. Additionally, the city has allocated resources for public outreach initiatives, including the distribution of trees to private property owners and organized tree planting endeavors.
These projects are slated to be executed in various parks and green spaces within Evanston's vicinity, encompassing locations such as Beck Park, Harbert Park, Butler ParkTwiggs Park and the Ladd Arboretum. These areas collectively span from Green Bay Road to Emerson Street.
This significant grant arrives amidst ongoing discussions within the city regarding park improvement initiatives as part of the 2024 budget deliberations. During a city council meeting held on September 19th, Robert Bush, the President of the Parks and Recreation Board, emphasized the current challenges facing the city's parks, describing the situation as a "crisis." He urged council members to allocate a minimum of 5% of the city's nearly $400 million budget towards enhancing its parks.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture highlights the manifold benefits of accessible green spaces, which include improved community well-being, reduced crime rates, lower average temperatures, and an increase in economic opportunities within these communities.