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Pa. communities get influx of federal cash to plant trees

  • Rachel McDevitt
Trees in the 700 block of North 16th Street in Harrisburg on August 2, 2022.

Jeremy Long / WITF

Trees in the 700 block of North 16th Street in Harrisburg on August 2, 2022.

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Pennsylvania communities are set to benefit from $1 billion in federal money to plant trees.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is awarding nearly $28 million to 12 projects across Pennsylvania through its Urban and Community Forest Program.

The initiative aims to plant and maintain trees, combat extreme heat and climate change, and improve access to nature in cities, towns, and suburbs.

The Forest Service calls the funding “historic” and says it will help support projects that increase tree cover in disadvantaged communities and give equitable access to the benefits of nature.

USDA says studies show that communities with more trees are associated with improved physical and mental health and lower average temperatures during extreme heat.

The money comes from last year’s major climate spending plan, the Inflation Reduction Act.

Philadelphia is getting the largest grant at $12 million. That is going to support the Philly Tree Plan, which has a goal of at least 30% tree cover in each neighborhood within the next 30 years.

Two projects in Harrisburg are getting $1 million each.

The Harrisburg City Riverside project is meant to care for and manage street trees in non-disadvantaged neighborhoods and organize new approaches to volunteer plantings.

The Harrisburg City TreeVestment project focuses on workforce development. Money will go to hire a full time forester who will train a 4-person crew, a full-time urban forestry educator to train volunteers, and a Shade Tree Program manager.

In Lancaster, $1 million is going to proactive tree maintenance. The city’s project seeks to ease property owner burden for street tree maintenance.

The Johnstown Urban Orchards project is getting more than $650,000. The project aims to provide fresh fruit and other trees in low-income areas.

The grants were open to community-based organizations, Tribes, municipal and state governments, non-profit partners, universities, and others.

The full list of grantees in Pennsylvania is below:

  • Borough of Mechanicsburg & Trees for All ($500,000)
  • Borough of State College & Borough of State College Urban Forestry Sustainability Plan ($369,355)
  • City of Allentown & City of Allentown Urban Forestry ($920,800)
  • City of Connellsville & Connellsville Community Tree Program ($500,000)
  • City of Easton & Easton Urban Forest Equity Project ($1,000,000)
  • City of Harrisburg & Harrisburg City Riverside ($1,000,000)
  • City of Harrisburg & Harrisburg City TreeVestment ($1,000,000)
  • City of Johnstown & Johnstown Urban Orchards project ($659,300)
  • City of Lancaster & Proactive Systemic Maintenance: Pruning, Planting and Removal ($1,000,000)
  • City of Pittsburgh & Pittsburgh Vacant Lots Tree Planting ($1,000,000)
  • Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest (DBA Tree Pittsburgh) & Pittsburgh Canopy Alliance ($8,000,000)
  • Public Health Management Corporation & Philly Tree Plan Implementation: Growing an Equitable Forest: ($12,000,000)

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