DNR Awards Record Amount of Urban and Community Forestry Grant Funding
July 6, 2022
More than $550,000 allocated to 21 projects ranging from urban tree planting to removal of invasive species
The Department of Natural Resources Urban and Community Forestry Program has awarded 21 organizations more than $550,000 combined in grant funding to support the health and resiliency of urban and community forests in Washington.
Thanks to recent investments made by the Washington State Legislature, the number of grant requests funded and the dollar amount allocated for the upcoming fiscal year are both high-water marks for the program; the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is awarding nearly 700 percent more funding to three times as many applicants as it did for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
“The record number of grants awarded and the sheer amount of funding available this year will have a transformative impact across Washington,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “Our mission to restore the health and resiliency of our great forests includes the urban trees and community green spaces that bolster our collective physical and mental well-being. These grants will help bring neighborhoods and entire communities together to help us remain the Evergreen State.”
Three applicants – the cities of Duvall, Everett and Snohomish – will receive a total of $75,000 for projects in support of the DNR Watershed Resilience Action Plan for Watershed Resource Inventory Area 7.
House Bill 1216 – legislation adopted in 2021 that expanded on and funded the Evergreen Communities Act of 2008 – requires the DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program (UCF) to prioritize projects benefitting locations that score at least an eight out of 10 on the Washington Environmental Health Disparities Map.
DNR is funding six such projects with UCF grant funds, as well as committing $50,000 from a different funding source to map tree canopy and identify planting opportunities in Yakima and Longview that fall under the same environmental justice umbrella.
“We are excited to award grant funding to such a wide array of projects that will benefit communities from Snohomish to Spokane,” UCF Program Manager Ben Thompson said. “We were able to commit more than $260,000 to support underserved communities that for too long have not had access to the benefits of a robust and healthy urban forest.”
One such project to receive funding is the SpoCanopy Program run by City of Spokane Urban Forestry and The Lands Council in Spokane. SpoCanopy has received DNR funding in past grant cycles in support of its goal for every Spokane neighborhood to have at least 40 percent tree canopy cover by 2030.
SpoCanopy will use its DNR grant award of $32,500 and other matching funds to plant 100 street trees in Northeast Spokane. Neighborhoods there average a tree canopy coverage of 13.4 percent, more than 10 percent below the city average. Additionally, the average income for that area of Spokane ranks among the 10 poorest zip codes in Washington.
Studies have shown that lack of urban tree cover not only affects a person’s quality of life, it can exacerbate serious health conditions such as asthma, and even increase the risks posed by extreme weather events. Spokane County officials attributed 20 deaths to last summer’s record-setting heat dome.
“We are thrilled to partner with DNR for a fourth year in a row to increase the urban canopy in Spokane,” said Lands Council Executive Director Amanda Parrish. “Growing the urban forest in our community brings such a variety of benefits, but perhaps most importantly is a simple way to address deadly summer heat waves.”
Click here for a complete list of grant recipients and here for file photos of recent projects. Applications for the 2023-2024 grant cycle will be available later this year.