The following blog post has been adapted from the "Urban Forestry Grants" piece Davey contributed to icma.org.
Urban forests provide numerous benefits that make communities better places to live, work and recreate. Often urban forestry management does not quite make the cut when it comes to annual budgets.
Yet, an urban forester, much like a public works director needs to know how many miles of roads must be paved, has to know the management requirements of a community’s trees. This is accomplished through a variety of tasks, including tree inventories and management plans. Liabilities can be reduced, citizen complaints minimized and proactive maintenance achieved when an arborist knows what urban forest assets a city has.
Paying for these critical management tools can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are grants available to communities across the country to assist in supporting a city’s desire to manage their urban forestry program proactively.
Josh Behounek, urban forestry coordinator in the eastern U.S. with The Davey Tree Expert Company, says primary sources of urban forestry grant funding in the U.S. include the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state agencies including forestry, natural resources and transportation divisions, cap-and-trade funding and private foundations.
“Several states have forestry grants as well that are run by a variety of state agencies,” Behounek says. “Some grants are intended more for management and planning related to the urban forest, such as tree inventories and management plans. Other grants assist communities in preparing a strategy for dealing with the effects of emerald ash borer and other invasive insects and diseases. Other grants are aimed more at educating the general public about a community’s trees and similar social aspects related to the tree canopy.”
“Many states have grants available related to water quality improvement and watershed protection projects, all of which are an integral part of urban forestry,” says Dana Karcher, Davey’s market manager for urban forestry in the western U.S. “Urban greening grants, complete streets projects, and smart growth initiatives can all lead to finding specialized funding. In California, the state announced the availability of $16 million in urban forestry grants starting in the fall of 2014. These grants are related to managing urban forests for air quality improvements and come through cap and trade funding.”
Behounek says community managers shouldn’t be turned off to the idea of submitting a grant proposal because the process appears complicated or lengthy.
“It’s free money to accomplish something that you might not have been able to afford to do or don’t have the time to commit to,” he says. “The grants can allow for completion of a tree inventory, or they might help pay for the necessary development of comprehensive management or master plan."
Karcher adds, “Because Davey is the recognized leader in urban forestry, we understand what communities need to manage their urban forests effectively. This is reflected in the grants that we support."