MADISON — Thirty-three communities, nonprofit groups, and counties will share $487,578.97 in 2017 state grant dollars to promote and sustain urban forest resources in Wisconsin.
The Department of Natural Resources Urban Forestry Grant program funds projects that align with state and national goals for increasing the urban forest canopy and the benefits it provides. The urban forest encompasses trees on both public and private property. Priorities for the 2017 grant cycle include, but were not limited to, projects that increase the ability of local municipal partners to expand their urban forestry program; increase the ability of all local partners to provide ongoing urban forestry funding, services and/or markets; benefit multiple communities; and put existing inventories of urban trees to use.
“Urban forests serve a vital role in our communities, delivering valuable environmental, economic, and social benefits,” said Alexandria Elias, Urban Forestry Grants Manager. “Approximately 70 percent of Wisconsin’s population lives in an urban area. Beyond aesthetics, urban forests reduce air pollution, mitigate storm water runoff, conserve energy, and increase property values. The 2017 urban forest grants help communities maximize these benefits.”
DNR forestry officials encouraged communities to apply for grants to develop emerald ash borer management plans and raise public awareness regarding its impact on ash trees in their community. Increasing species diversity is the best way to reduce the impact of future tree diseases or insect infestations.
The grants range from $1,000 to $25,000, and grant recipients must match each grant dollar for dollar. A startup grant of up to $5,000 is available for communities that want to start or restart a community forestry program. Out of the 33 2017 Urban Forestry grants awarded, 7 are for startup grants.