Biden-Harris Administration Announces Historic Funding to Expand Access to Trees and Green Spaces in Disadvantaged Urban Communities

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More than $1 billion from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda will increase urban tree cover, promote equitable access to nature and tackle the climate crisis

Newark, NJ, April 12, 2023 – Today, the Biden-Harris administration announces the availability of $1 billion in grants to improve equitable access to trees and green space in urban and community forests, where more than 84% of Americans live, work and play. The announcement is part of President Biden’s “Invest in America” ​​agenda and the administration’s work to build a clean energy economy, promote environmental justice and create economic opportunity in communities across the country.

The funding announced today is part of a $1.5 billion investment in the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program under President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. Grant funding is available to community-based organizations, tribes, local and state governments, nonprofit partners, universities and other eligible entities working to increase tree cover in urban spaces, improve equal access to nature, while building resilience to extreme heat, storm-related flooding and other climate impacts. This historic level of investment will allow the Forest Service to support projects that improve public health, increase access to nature, and provide real economic and environmental benefits to cities and tribal communities across the country.

“This program is another way the Biden-Harris administration is investing in America and ensuring that all people, regardless of zip code or neighborhood, have equal access to the benefits that trees and green space provide,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Whether it’s reducing heat stress or creating jobs in planting and tending trees, this grant funding will support local communities and partners working locally for environmental justice by mitigating the impact of climate change on communities that lack trees in urban spaces, while providing children with more safe spaces for outdoor play.”

In addition to the open grant opportunity, the USDA Forest Service is making up to $250 million available to states and territories to advance local efforts to support urban communities through equal access to trees and the benefits that come with them. Funding for state and territory forest agencies is managed as sub-grant to reach disadvantaged communities as determined by the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. For a detailed breakdown of grants by state and territory, see https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/urban-forests/ucf/fy23-state-allocations.

The Urban and Community Forestry Program is part of President Biden’s Justice40 initiative, which aims to ensure that 40% of the total benefits of certain federal investments go to disadvantaged and underserved communities that lack access to trees and nature. The USDA is also a partner in the Interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to Promote Equitable Access to Nature in Naturally Disadvantaged Communities, which aims to reduce the number of people in their communities who do not have access to nature.

“Research shows that trees and green spaces improve physical and mental health and create new economic opportunities,” said Dr. Homer Wilkes, USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment. “They also improve community green spaces and support lasting relationships and engagements in the community. These funds will allow us to bring these benefits to disadvantaged communities across the country and support new partnerships with a variety of organizations.”

To celebrate the opening of this application process, Undersecretary Wilkes attended a tree planting ceremony and stakeholder roundtable at Lincoln Park in Newark, New Jersey, along with John Podesta, the White House senior adviser on innovation and clean energy implementation, and US Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). The visit is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s Investing in America tour, during which senior government officials and cabinet members will travel across the country to highlight the impact of President Biden’s historic legislative achievements, including the Inflation Reduction Act.

“This historic investment in urban forestry, part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, is not just about improving access to nature and addressing the climate crisis,” said John Podesta, senior adviser to the president on clean energy innovation and implementation. “It’s about cleaning the air we breathe, keeping city streets cool in hot summers, and creating safer, healthier neighborhoods for our children.”

“Since my time as mayor of Newark, I have seen the transformative impact that planting trees can have on urban communities,” said Senator Booker. “Studies have shown that trees save families money on heating and cooling bills, reduce air and water pollution, reduce the risk of respiratory diseases like asthma, reduce flooding and protect people from extreme heat.” The $1.5 billion under the Inflation Reduction Act for the Urban and Community Forestry Program will help us plant more trees in our communities, with a focus on overlooked and disadvantaged areas. This historic investment will help us combat the worst impacts of climate change, move us closer to addressing environmental injustices in our communities, and pay off for generations to come.”

The Inflation Reduction Act is the largest nationwide investment to combat the climate crisis. Through this grant funding opportunity, the agency will invest in proposals that go beyond planting new trees, such as B. Proposing how to conserve and manage urban forests, strengthen community engagement in local urban forest planning, and improve the resilience of communities and urban forests to climate change, extreme heat, forest pests and diseases, and extreme weather events.

“Investing in our urban forests means investing in the health and well-being of our communities,” said Randy Moore, director of the forest service. “Trees offer numerous benefits, such as: Such as improving air quality, reducing stormwater runoff, providing shade, creating safe outdoor spaces for recreation, and encouraging other types of investments. Equal access to these benefits is vital, as everyone deserves the opportunity to live in a healthy and sustainable environment.”

The Forest Service is hosting a series of webinars to help prospective applicants apply for grants. A first webinar took place on March 29, 2023, with further webinars planned later in April. These information-sharing webinars will be promoted and published on the Forest Service website. The final funding amount depends on the total funding of the proposals and their potential impact on disadvantaged communities. The open application period is April 12, 2023 through June 1, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

For information on applying for federal grants for city and community forestry, visit the Forest Service website or visit www.grants.gov under opportunity number USDA-FS-2023-UCF-IRA-01. For more information on state and territory funding, visit the State Allocations website. To learn how to apply for state or territory administered sub-grants, contact your local state forest service.

The USDA touches the lives of all Americans in so many positive ways every day. Under the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming America’s food system with an increased focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, wholesome, and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and income streams for farmers and producers through climate-friendly food and forestry practices, historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capacity in rural America, and a department-wide commitment to justice through removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. Visit www.usda.gov for more information.

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