Skip to main content

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces the 2015 National Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Grants

WASHINGTON, August 13, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the 2015 USDA Forest Service's National Urban and Community Forestry Challenge grant recipients. USDA is providing $795,447 in funding to support projects that will help enhance urban forest stewardship, support new employment opportunities and help build resilience in the face of a changing climate. The grant recipients are committing an additional $1,243,829 to their projects. Close to 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas and depends on the essential health, economic and social benefits provided by urban trees and forests.

"All Americans benefit from the many services well-managed urban forests provide," said Vilsack. "The grants announced today will make great strides in innovative research and community projects that will help keep our urban forests vital and valuable."

In the United States alone, urban trees store over 708 million tons of carbon, which is equivalent to annually mitigating carbon emissions from about 500 million automobiles. Urban trees help further reduce emissions by lowering electricity demand for summer air conditioning and winter heating. Well-maintained urban forests can help address climate and extreme weather impacts by reducing storm water runoff, buffering high winds, controlling erosion and minimizing the impacts of drought. Urban forests also provide critical social and cultural benefits providing places for people to recreate and gather with their communities.

Today's announcement supports President Obama's Climate Action Plan and the Administration's Natural Resources Climate Resilience Priority Agenda by furthering the role of urban forests in preparing communities for the impacts of a changing climate and helping communities better manage stormwater through low-impact development techniques.

The 2015 grant recipients and amounts are:

The Morton Arboretum, Planning for Equitable Urban Landscapes: Identifying Communities Underserved by Urban Forest: $298,525

This project will develop new tools and maps focused on identifying communities underserved by urban forest green infrastructure, evaluating resilience under future scenarios and optimizing management strategies to mitigate disparities and risks.

Ecotrust, Jobs for the Future Green Infrastructure Jobs Analysis: $166,450

A team comprised of Ecotrust, Verde and PolicyLink will conduct an analysis of the job creation and social and economic benefits of community-scale investments in urban forestry and related green infrastructure. The project will produce evidence of the impacts of these investments, particularly on low-income underserved communities.

Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI), Integrating Trees into Stormwater Management Design and Policy Guide: $194,770

The grantee will develop a guide for local decision makers titled, "Integrating Trees into Stormwater Management Design and Policy Guide," for promoting, facilitating and increasing the use of trees for stormwater management.

University Of California Cooperative Extension, Monitoring Tree Survival and Performance in Street-side Stormwater Management: $37,032

This project evaluates tree survival, growth and condition in stormwater facilities, over a period of 3 years, which will result in a publication and a monitoring protocol.

New York City Parks, Impact of Structural Soil and Porous Pavement on Tree Health: $98,670

The grantee will conduct an innovative study of street tree plantings over a 5-year monitoring period to reveal the most effective combination of green infrastructure technologies.

For more information about the National Urban and Community Forestry Challenge grant recipients, please visit

The mission of the Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the Nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).