Two Rivers Park, Little Rock, AR.

USDA Forest Service Invests $1.87 Million in Arkansas Disadvantaged Urban Communities

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday the USDA Forest Service is investing more than $1 billion in disadvantaged urban communities by supporting work to increase access to trees and the social, health, and economic benefits they provide.

Of the total funding, the Forest Service is allocating more than $65 million directly to Southern Region states to bolster competitive subgrants, support state projects, provide technical assistance, and assist states with other related services.

“Investing in our urban forests is investing in the health and wellness of our communities,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “Trees provide numerous benefits, like improving air quality, reducing stormwater runoff, providing shade, creating safe outdoor spaces for recreation, and stimulating other kinds of investments. Equitable access to these benefits is key, as everyone deserves the opportunity to live in a healthy and sustainable environment.”

Craighead Forest, Jonesboro, AR.
Craighead Forest, Jonesboro, AR.

Fiscal Year 2023 Urban and Community Forestry state allocations:

  • Ala.: $3.37 million
  • Ark.: $1.87 million
  • Fla.: $3.7 million
  • Ga.: $9.75 million
  • Ky.: $2.25 million
  • Miss.: $1.5 million
  • N.C.: $6.37 million
  • Okla.: $1.87 million
  • S.C.: $2.62 million
  • Tenn.: $4.12 million
  • Texas: $21.75 million
  • Va.: $6.6 million

More information: State Allocations – Fiscal Year 2023 | US Forest Service (usda.gov)

Beyond providing funding directly to state and territory forestry agencies, the Forest Service is making up to $1 billion available as competitive grants. The grant funding is available to community-based organizations, tribes, municipal and state governments, nonprofit partners, universities, and other eligible entities as they work to increase tree cover in urban spaces and boost equitable access to nature while bolstering resilience to extreme heat, storm-induced flooding, and other climate impacts.

“Working hand-in-hand with our partners, we invest in communities, improving hundreds of millions of acres of urban and community forest across the region and the country,” said Regional Forester Ken Arney, Forest Service Southern Region.

Through this grant funding opportunity, the agency will invest in proposals that extend beyond planting new trees, such as proposals for maintaining and managing urban forests, increasing community engagement in local urban forest planning, and improving community and urban forest resilience to climate change, extreme heat, forest pests and diseases, and extreme weather events.

Boyle Park, Little Rock, AR.
Boyle Park, Little Rock, AR.

The final funding amount will depend on the total funding requested from proposals and their potential impact on disadvantaged communities. The open application period extends from April 12, 2023, to June 1, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. For more information, visit the Forest Service urban forests webpage.

The funding, made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, is part of a $1.5 billion investment in the Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. This historic level of investment will enable the Forest Service to support an unprecedented number of projects that will improve public health, increase access to nature, and deliver real economic and ecological benefits to cities, towns, and tribal communities across the country.

The Urban and Community Forestry Program supports the Justice40 Initiative, which aims to ensure that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and lack access to trees and nature.

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The Forest Service supports vibrant and healthy urban communities by supporting healthy urban forests. For information on how to apply for federal Urban and Community Forestry grants, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/urban-forests, or www.grants.gov.

To learn how to apply for state or territory-administered subgrants, contact local state forestry agencies.

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