LANSING, Mich. — On Friday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service announced a nearly $33 million investment supporting Urban and Community Forestry Program projects in Michigan.
The projects aim to increase access to trees, and in doing so, encourage the social, health and economic benefits they provide.
Across the country, over $1 billion will go to supporting nearly 400 projects led by community-based organizations, nonprofit partners and universities, tribes and municipal and state governments.
Two of these projects will commence in West Michigan. $5 million was granted to Friends of Grand Rapids Parks for Forest Justice in Greater Grand Rapids and $1 million was granted to the City of Kalamazoo for Growing a Greener Kalamazoo.
“Through these grants, we are supporting local partners and organizations doing critical work that directly impacts and improves our lives," said Gina Owens, Eastern Regional Forester. "An increased tree canopy has countless benefits for our cities and our well-being. Trees improve air quality, reduce stress, encourage safety, and create spaces to recreate and gather."
The funding for the projects comes from the Inflation Reduction Act, which is part of a $1.5 billion investment in the Forest Service's Urban and Community Forestry Program.
The money being distributed will go towards planting and maintaining trees in disadvantaged communities, fighting the climate crisis and supporting local jobs.
"These investments arrive as cities across the country experience record-breaking heatwaves that have grave impacts on public health, energy consumption, and overall well-being," said Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack.
The Urban and Community Forestry Program supports the Justice40 Initiative, which works to ensure 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments go to disadvantaged communities. These communities could be marginalized, underserved or lacking access to trees and nature.
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