NEW JERSEY – The Department of Environmental Protection is awarding 38 grants totaling $1.3 million to promote the stewardship of urban and community trees and forests throughout New Jersey, according to Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette.
The grants support Governor Phil Murphy’s environmental justice initiatives in vulnerable neighborhoods, with 75 percent of the funds awarded to municipalities with at least one overburdened community.
“Urban trees and forests are vitally important for the many benefits they provide to clean our air and water, and to provide cool shade from increasingly warm temperatures,” LaTourette said. “Trees are also part of our daily lives. They uplift people, beautify neighborhoods, stand witness to important moments and improve communities.”
Funding for the 2021 grants comes from the “Treasure Our Trees” state license plate sales and the New Jersey Forest Service No Net Loss Compensatory Reforestation Program. The importance and value of trees and forests is being marked worldwide today, the International Day of Forests. The United Nations General Assembly created the day 10 years ago to celebrate and raise awareness about the importance of all types of forests.
“Advancing tree equity in New Jersey’s overburdened communities gives us the opportunity to address the three pillars of thriving communities: social, environmental and economic vitality,” said Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Justice and Equity Olivia Glenn. “From greenhouse gases to urban heat island effect, lack of tree canopy can compromise social, environmental and economic quality of life for some of New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents.”
Resilience planning grants help communities assess their current urban forest and provide critical data about the forest’s structure and composition. This data may then be used to better inform forest management decisions to maximize ecological benefits and create a sustainable urban forest.
Reforestation and tree planting grants ensure the growth and establishment of trees and forests that best suit the needs and goals of their communities. Municipalities receiving 2021 grants in this category use funding to increase their urban canopy, increase the ecological services of their urban and community forest, and provide a cooler place to live.
“Urban and Community Forestry grants are important for bringing trees to communities that are lacking in urban tree canopy, and equally important for ensuring that the existing urban trees and forests are maintained for the future,” said John Cecil, Director of the Division of Parks and Forestry.
Resiliency planning grants totaling $925,374 are awarded to:
- Bergen County: Closter, $30,000; Dumont, $34,100; Maywood, $32,000; Oakland, $21,797; Oradell, $25,700; Rutherford, $50,000; Garfield, $49,200; Glen Rock, $35,500
- Burlington County: Maple Shade, $10,987; Riverton Shade Tree Board, $28,400
- Cape May County: Wildwood Crest, $50,000
- Essex County: West Orange, $50,000
- Hudson County: Jersey City, $50,000
- Mercer County: East Windsor, $10,000; Hamilton Township, $50,000; Lawrence Township, $10,500; Mercer County Park Commission, $50,000
- Monmouth County: Belmar, $9,800; Roosevelt, $8,515; Bradley Beach Shade Tree Commission, $15,000; Ocean Township Shade Tree Commission, $50,000
- Morris County: Riverdale, $22,000; Morristown, $31,000
- Ocean County: Jackson Township Shade Tree Commission, $20,000
- Passaic County: Totowa, $25,000; County of Passaic, $13,500
- Somerset County: Bound Brook, $30,000
- Union County: Rahway, $42,375; Summit, $50,000
- Warren County: Washington Borough Shade Tree Commission, $20,000
Reforestation and tree planting grants totaling $382,624 are awarded to:
- Atlantic County: City of Egg Harbor, $30,000
- Bergen County: River Edge Shade Tree Commission, $66,000
- Burlington County: Delanco Township Shade Tree Commission, $80,000
- Cape May County: West cape May Shade Tree Commission, $42,300
- Middlesex County: Dunellen Shade Tree Commission, $50,499
- Mercer County: Pennington, $10,000
- Monmouth County: Freehold, $52,250; Spring Lake Shade Tree Committee, $51,575
“With proper care, trees in community and urban settings can be healthy and live long lives,” said State Forester John Sacco. “The New Jersey Urban and Community Forestry program provides the financial and technical assistance communities need to properly manage and care for urban and community trees and forests.”
Currently, 250 municipalities and counties across New Jersey have management plans for trees and forests approved by the New Jersey Forest Service, 150 of which are fully accredited with the Urban and Community Forestry Program.
Awarding stewardship grants in two categories since 2000, the New Jersey Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program provides financial assistance for projects on municipal or county property for resilience planning initiatives, and for reforestation and tree planting initiatives. The grant program is competitive.
For more information about the New Jersey Urban and Community Forestry Program, visit www.communityforestry.nj.gov.