Urban and Community Forestry

Washington State Urban and Community Forestry Program

The Washington State Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) Program provides technical, educational and financial assistance to Washington’s cities and towns, counties, tribal governments, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions. Explore the links below to learn more.
Since October is the best time to plant trees in Washington, Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed the month as Urban and Community Forestry Month. Take advantage of the cooler temperatures and moisture, and plant trees to make your community healthier by creating a thriving urban forest. 

View the latest issue of Tree Link Newsletter.

Urban and Community Forestry in Washington

DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program

The Washington State Urban and Community Forestry Program works to educate citizens and decision-makers about the economic, environmental, psychological and aesthetic benefits of trees and to assist local governments, citizen groups and volunteers in planting and sustaining healthy trees and vegetation wherever people live and work in Washington State. Our mission is to provide leadership to create self-sustaining urban and community forestry programs that preserve, plant and manage forests and trees for public benefits and quality of life.

Washington Community Forestry Council

The Washington Community Forestry Council advises the Department of Natural Resources on policies and programs related to community and urban forestry.

Nominate our next award winner! The Council would like to recognize exceptional leadership, creativity, cooperation and stewardship toward the goals of urban and community forestry in Washington by encouraging nomination of individuals, organizations, community groups, and businesses for a Council award.

Evergreen Communities Act

The Evergreen Communities Act (ECA) was passed by the Washington State Legislature in April, 2008, with support from a coalition of several state agencies, non-profit organizations, utility companies and other stakeholders. The ECA was designed to assist municipalities and jurisdictions across the state to better manage existing urban forests and plan for improvements to the urban forest infrastructure to increase the value of the ecological, social and economic services that urban trees provide.

The ECA is a collaboration among three State agencies: Dept. Of Natural Resources, Dept. Of Commerce, and Dept. of Ecology. Each agency has specific tasks to perform under the ECA; however, lack of funding limited work toward the goals of the Act. Prior to loss of funding, DNR’s Technical Assistance Committee completed an inventory data dictionary and report  and Commerce’s Task Force completed "A Guide to Community and Urban Forestry Programming". The ECA remains in force but unfunded.

Arbor Day and Tree City

The Washington State Arbor Day is always celebrated on the second Wednesday in April. Read Governor Inslee’s proclamation for 2018 here. Did you know that proclaiming Arbor Day at the local level can help your community earn the Tree City USA designation? Recognizing Arbor Day is one of four requirements for earning this award. To view the current Tree City USA Communities in Washington State, click here.

Washington communities that have earned the Tree City USA award are once again eligible for reimbursement by DNR for the planting of an Arbor Day tree or trees. This year, we have bumped the value of the reimbursements from $200 up to $500 so that all Tree City USA communities have the opportunity to plant at least one landscape-sized tree on Arbor Day. Interested Tree City communities are advised to download the reimbursement form and follow the instructions.

If your Tree City USA Community would like to have a representative from DNR or the Washington Community Forestry Council attend your Arbor Day Event or a City Council meeting to present your Tree City USA Award, please complete this form and email it to urban_forestry@dnr.wa.gov.

Grants and Financial Assistance

The DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program offers financial assistance to cities, towns, counties, tribal governments, educational institutions, and 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations in Washington State.

Grant Resources Webpage:  a list of resources for current grantees and a list of urban forestry grant recipients for 2014-2018.
All forms of financial assistance, their availability in a given year, and their associated dollar amounts are dependent on continued funding through annual grant allocations from the USDA Forest Service. In addition, the nature and timing of the application processes are subject to change from year to year.

The following is an overview of our financial assistance programs in more detail:

  • Community Forestry Assistance (CFA) Grants 

    • Available to all communities; there is no change to our grant process.
    • Acceptable projects should focus on urban forestry program development or innovative programs that educate staff, the public and decision-makers about the benefits of trees and/or proper tree care and management. Examples include but are not limited to developing urban forestry management plans, tree ordinances, policy manuals and tree canopy analyses.
    • Match (in-kind or financial) is required.
  • Small Community Forestry Assistance Grants 
The grant application process for 2019 is NOW OPEN for Small Community Forestry Assistance Grants. Letters of interest for small communities are due by 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2018. The solicitation for the 2019 Small Community Forestry Assistance Grant has been posted to the Washington’s Electronic Business Solutions database (WEBS). You will need to register on WEBS to access the solicitation, which includes establishing a username and password. Please register and download the solicitation at https://fortress.wa.gov/ga/webs/
The grant is for those communities with populations under 10,000, with a required grant match of 30%. ($3000 for a $9000 grant, as an example).
*Grantees must contact the program manager to discuss inventory projects before submitting a proposal. 
  • These grants are only available to communities with populations less than 10,000.
    • Acceptable projects should focus on community forestry-related projects, which may not otherwise receive local funding. Examples include, but are not limited to: developing program guidance documents, such as management plans, tree ordinances, policy manuals; conducting tree resource inventories or tree canopy analyses that inform maintenance or management plans; improving the community forest through tree planting demonstration projects or structural pruning; training and education for tree management and maintenance staff; and develop and adopt a tree care standards of care manual to guide community tree maintenance practices.
    • Match (in-kind or financial) is required.
    • Applicants must first submit a "letter of interest." This is a short electronic fillable form that contains the most important information about the project. DNR will select approximately six of these letters and assist applicants to further develop their project ideas into full grant applications. The total number of projects awarded is dependent upon the amount of funding requested.
    • Applicants are strongly encouraged to download and read the Community Forestry Assistance (CFA) Grant Application and RFP. The CFA Grant Application contains details about the nature of this funding opportunity that will help applicants craft their letters of interest. The RFP is the form successful applicants will be asked to fill out if their letter of interest is selected.
    • The intent of the Letter of Interest for small communities is to reduce the initial investment of time to apply. Applicants whose letters are selected will have a head start on the grant writing process and will compete with a much smaller pool of applicants, thus increasing their odds of being funded.
    • The RFP and Letter of Interest documents are fillable pdf forms that can be downloaded from our website. Each is pre- formatted with a series of questions which applicants are required to answer within the spaces provided. Applicants have the option to submit their grant proposals electronically by email. The Community Forestry Assistance Grants are available to local governments such as cities, towns, counties and tribes in Washington state.  Educational institutions and 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, while not directly eligible to apply, may partner with an eligible grantee to help develop a project.
  • Arbor Day Tree Reimbursements (download the Reimbursement Form)
    • Communities who have earned the Tree City USA designation can be reimbursed for the costs, or a portion thereof, associated with planting landscape-sized trees at their annual Arbor Day celebration. Some restrictions apply. Documentation of costs and activities is required. Match (in-kind or financial) is required.

  • Scholarships*
    • Professional scholarships may occasionally be made available for our constituents to attend local, regional, or national conferences, workshops, seminars, or training classes.
  • Internships*
    • Internships may occasionally be made available for students pursuing studies or research projects in urban and community forestry in Washington.

Questions about scholarships, internships, or other forms of financial assistance may be directed to urban_forestry@dnr.wa.gov.

Educational Assistance

  • Community Tree Management Institute (CTMI)

    CTMI is an intensive continuing education course designed for public employees that have tree-related responsibilities but who may not have formal training in urban forest management. CTMI is offered every other year. Tuition fees apply. 

    • Regional Seminars
      • Seminars are roughly 4 hours of professional presentations on topics relevant to urban forestry. Seminars are mostly indoors, free to participants and typically planned months in advance in partnership with host cities. To learn more about this year's seminar offerings, please visit our program's electronic newsletter, the Tree Link
    • On-site Staff Training
      • Trainings are roughly 1-2 hours of instruction covering hands-on skills for tree care. These are available to program constituents by request as DNR staff schedules permit.
    • Technology Transfer
      • The Technology Transfer webpage contains a wealth of information on science, research and other topics relating to management and care of urban trees:
    • Stop! Don't Top that tree
      • The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is promoting an anti-tree topping campaign to increase public understanding of proper tree care. To find out more please see our Anti-Tree Topping Webpage

    Technical Assistance

    Urban and Community Forestry staff are available to provide technical assistance to local governments, 501(C)3 non-profits, tribes, and educational institutions. Examples of technical assistance include: participating in the review, evaluation, and redrafting of tree ordinances; providing consultation on urban forestry strategies, plans, policies, and practices; helping city staff triage and prioritize program needs, providing training to field staff on topics of pruning, planting, or identification of tree defects; giving presentations to city councils, planning commissions, or civic organizations; and working with citizen tree boards or committees on improving effectiveness. Not sure if the needs of your city fit into any of these categories? Give us a call at 1-800-523-8733 or inquire by email at urban_forestry@dnr.wa.gov.

    Washington Community Forestry Council

    The Washington Community Forestry Council advises the Department of Natural Resources on policies and programs related to community and urban forestry.

    Nominate our next award winner! The Council would like to recognize exceptional leadership, creativity, cooperation and stewardship toward the goals of urban and community forestry in Washington by encouraging nomination of individuals, organizations, community groups, and businesses for a Council award.

    Urban Forestry Restoration Project

    The Urban Forestry Restoration Project will not be offered for the 2017-2018 project year due to lack of funding. However, we are exploring opportunities to restore the program in future years.

    In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, DNR does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. However, should a person wish to file a discrimination complaint, please write to:

    USDA, Director
    Office of Civil Rights

    Room 326-W, Whitten Building
    1400 Independence Avenue SW
    Washington D.C. 20250-9410
    or call 202.720.5964 (voice and TDD).

    USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.