NYSUFC Partners with NYSDEC to Award Arbor Day Project Grants

Otisville, NY Garden Club members planted this red maple and other trees as part of the Village’s 2016 Arbor Day celebration, which was supported by an Arbor Day grant from the New York State Urban Forestry Council.   

Communities that are just getting their urban forestry programs up and running, take note of this grant opportunity! In future posts, we’ll highlight some of the 2016 celebrations from grant-recipient communities. Stay tuned to the TAKING ROOT monthly e-news to find out when the next round of Arbor Day grant applications opens for 2017 tree plantings/celebrations. 

From Brian Skinner, Council Vice President:

For the second year, the NYSUFC partnered with the NYSDEC in taking on the administrative and award mechanism for Arbor Day grants (previously known as “Quick Start” AD grants), providing up to $10,000 total in grant monies for communities to conduct 2016 Arbor Day tree planting programs and ceremonies.

Communities that apply and those that are successful are not burdened with the paper mountains, contracts, forms, times delays, etc. that are typical of the much larger State grants. These are Arbor Day grants of up to $1,000 per community to conduct a tree planting event. Since they are meant to assist communities just getting started in their urban forestry efforts, applicants cannot be an existing Tree City USA community or have an ordinance, master plan, or have gotten the grant previously. Simple, less paper, quick turn-around, 50% of your funds up front, simple documentation, only one or two people to deal with, questions answered quickly and directly … a grant writer’s dream!

In 2015, 12 communities from around the State applied, and because some did not request the full $1,000 for their AD projects, the Council was able to award all 12 communities a grant. Word of the simplicity, ease, and success of the process must have spread, because in 2016, 35 communities applied, making the Arbor Day project grants committee work much more difficult and challenging. Council volunteers reviewed the applications and associated documentation and narrowed down the applicants (very tough competition, by the way!), eventually selecting 13 communities to receive a part of the grant funding. Due to some leftover funding from last year and some additional outside funding that was made available for such programmed events, the committee was able to award over $11,400 in grant requests this year.

Our congratulations to all the communities that were selected for grants this year: the towns of Alden, Ellington, Naples, North Greenbush, Pound Ridge, and Unionvale; the villages of Dansville, Orchard Park, Otisville, Perry, and Tivoli; and Friends of Parish (Parish) and Friends of Washington Park (Troy). Please congratulate anyone you know from those communities on their success and continue to encourage other communities to apply next year. And don’t forget to thank the DEC for partnering with the Council for this! Little steps such as this encourage participating communities to look at their trees now with a goal of becoming an Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA, which in itself has a whole different set of requirements … and we know they’re all up to that challenge.



Getting to Know Capital Roots and Sharon DiLorenzo


Sharon DiLorenzo and capital roots iii

Sharon DiLorenzo is a program manager for Capital Roots, whose vision for the future of the Capital Region is “where every person has access to fresh, affordable, healthy food.” The organization is also involved in urban forestry projects and partnerships. She has served multiple terms on the NYSUFC Board and will be presenting on the work of Capital Roots as part of the “Fruits of the Urban Forest” workshop on Saturday morning of the upcoming (July 14-16) conference in Saratoga Springs.

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Onondaga Lake Park Tree Planting to Regenerate Canopy after EAB

OCSWCD & CCE staff and volunteers planting bare-root trees.                                                                                                                              All photos courtesy OCSWCD

A community-based, volunteer tree-planting event was held on May 5th at Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool, NY. This event was part of Onondaga County’s Ash Tree Management Strategy. Onondaga County and the Office of the Environment have contracted the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) to implement the County’s comprehensive Ash Tree Management Strategy which can be viewed here.

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Nyack’s Tree Inventory Propels Nursery and Planting Program

Nyack's Tree Inventory began in the Village's Memorial Park
Nyack’s Tree Inventory began in the Village’s Memorial Park

Here, Nyack Tree Committee Chair Marcy Denker discusses the tree inventory recently completed in her Village. You can see the full tree inventory report here, and the key findings from the inventory can be seen after Marcy’s narrative.   

New York State Urban Forestry Program Coordinator Mary Kramarchyk says, “Nyack uses the principles of good urban forestry management to gain the best outcomes for their projects. Like Nyack, other New York communities can use the resources around them, like ReLeaf and the NYSUFC, to find tools to benefit their community programs.”

Tree Survey Photo Op-1
Foresters Allison Huggan and Carl Koehler (yellow jackets) of Davey Resource Group with Nyack Village Trustee Doug Foster, Mayor Jen White (center), and Tree Committee Chair Marcy Denker.

Marcy Denker:

When the Village of Nyack organized a Green Infrastructure Roundtable to address stormwater problems three years ago, tree planting and stewardship emerged as priority actions. The Village took the steps to become a Tree City USA the following year and received a NYSDEC Cost-Share Grant for a tree inventory. Completed in 2015 by Davey Resource Group (DRG), the inventory identified over 500 locations for tree planting on public land. That’s a lot of sites for a village of one-and-a-half square miles!

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ReTree Schenectady: Cost-Share Grants Story & Advice

Group photo

ReTree Schenectady (ReTree) is a non-profit organization formed in 1991 that is dedicated to the planting, care, and conservation of current and future generations of trees in the City of Schenectady. Their goals are achieved by fostering community involvement through education and collaboration with local organizations and businesses.

ReTree has applied for and received many rounds of NYS DEC Cost-Share grants. Here, ReTree President Dr. Betsy Henry shares some of her experiences and has some advice for new applicants. First and most basic, applicants should make sure to address all the areas requested in the grant application. Then she has some advice about good planning and collaboration for projects.

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The Norwich Cost-Share Grant Experience

species distribution norwich

What was the City of Norwich’s experience with its NYS DEC-sponsored Urban and Community Forestry cost-share grant? We get the scoop from Norwich Planning and Community Development Specialist Todd D. Dreyer and Morrisville State College Assistant Professor Rebecca Hargrave.

The application was prepared in 2011 by Hargrave and the funds were used in 2012 to conduct a city-wide inventory of street and park trees. (A portion of Norwich’s successful grant narrative can be seen in the second half of this post.)

Dreyer says that the project was done with the cooperation of staff support from the City of Norwich, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chenango County (for whom Hargrave worked at the time), and the Christian Neighborhood Center. The project included entering the inventory data into a GIS database to enable mapping and computer analysis of the information gathered during the inventory.

Youth crew
Headquarters Youth Conservation Corps members (left to right) Katie Rawluk, Kristen Rawluk, Ethan Russell, Ian Weaver, Pat Taylor, Linas Impolis and Conor Tarbell. Not pictured are Zac Calderon and Cheyenne Beach.

Dreyer says, “The tree inventory was done during the summer of 2012 with a team of young people employed in a local AmeriCorps program known as the Headwaters Youth Conservation Corps.” They were trained and supervised by Hargrave, who says, “The City of Norwich was mostly interested in species size, composition, and distribution; basic condition information; and identification of potential planting sites.”

Hargrave says that the Headwaters Youth Conservation Corps crew collected tree data on paper forms (using codes) and collected location data with GPS units. The data was then entered into i-Tree Streets. “At the time we did not have the budget to purchase the handheld data recorders needed to run i-Tree Streets,” Hargrave says, “but that is no longer really an issue, even just a few years later, as most phones or tablets have the ability to collect data.”

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NYS DEC Cost-Share Grants: The Trees New York Example

CPs at work
Advanced Citizen Pruners, trained and supervised by Trees New York, working their magic in East Harlem, NYC. Photos Courtesy Trees New York

The NYC-based environmental and urban forestry nonprofit organization, Trees New York, has trained Citizen Pruners since 1976. In light of so many years of success—including mentoring new Citizen Pruner groups upstate—they created the Advanced Citizen Pruner Program in 2012. You can see a video about the Trees New York Citizen Pruner program here.

Trees New York applied for and received a NYDEC U&CF Round 11 Cost-Share Grant for its Advanced Citizen Pruner training and work sessions. In-kind support came from NYC Parks in the form of NYC Parks foresters on hand for the training and Park staff and trucks to haul brush away. The training took place in summer of 2012 and the work outings began in November 2012. The focus was on structural pruning of young trees that were out of their two-year warranty, and the majority of the work took place in East Harlem, since it had dense plantings of such young trees.

We spoke with Trees New York’s Executive Director Nelson Villarrubia about their Advanced Citizen Pruner Program project implementation and things to consider when applying for a NYDEC U&CF Cost-Share Grant. Following the Q&A is the narrative of the Trees New York successful Round 11 Cost-Share Grant application. This successful narrative is instructive for municipalities who want to apply for the next round of grants (Round 13), the details of which should be announced later this fall.

Regarding Round 13, NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program Manager Mary Kramarchyk says, “The cost-share grant match for maintenance and tree planting will be only 25% this year. Also, applicants may receive partial reimbursements to make completing the project easier than funding the entire project up front. We hope this will make creating green spaces easier for non-profits and municipalities.”

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The Red Hook Way, Part II: Cost-Share Grant Success

In 2011, the Town of Red Hook Tree Commission successfully applied for a Round 10 NYS DEC Urban and Community Forestry Cost-Share grant that they used for a tree inventory and tree planting.

Victoria Rolfe and Nancy Gurski working on the Town of Red Hook's tree inventory. Photo courtesy Red Hook Tree Commission
Victoria Rolfe (standing) and Nancy Guski working on the Town of Red Hook’s tree inventory. Photos courtesy Red Hook Tree Commission

The example provided by the excellent Red Hook Grant NARRATIVE will be of interest to your community as you prepare your cost-share grant applications for Round 13 later this year (stay tuned to NYSDEC’s web page about the grants for the timetable).

After the grant monies were put to use in 2011-2013, Red Hook Tree Commission Chair Nancy Guski prepared a final report that follows. Along with the grant narrative linked above, this report is recommended reading for any community thinking about applying for cost-share grants later in 2015.

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The Red Hook Way, Part I: Stellar Tree Commission

by Brenda Cagle, Red Hook Councilwoman

Q: What do you call a highly functioning, well-informed, enthusiastic tree Committee? 
A: The Town of Red Hook Tree Commission (TC)

Who cares
The Red Hook Tree Commission worked with young community volunteers on planting at the Town of Red Hook Recreation Park. They renovated five tree lawns with 17 new trees. The Boy Scouts and the Linden Avenue Middle School environmental club, WHO CARES, helped plant. Photos Courtesy Red Hook Tree Commission

This amazing group of seven people is “doing it by the book” and more. Led by chairperson Nancy Guski, a retired elementary school teacher, the committee is comprised of a landscape professional, a former planning board member, another retired teacher, two retired dentists, and a nature lover and eagle expert. All participate according to their talents and time but the key is that they ALL participate.

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Buffalo’s Cost-Share Grant Story and Advice

Measuring Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) during the in-house, grant-funded inventory.
Measuring Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) during the in-house, grant-funded inventory.

In 2011, the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy (BOPC) successfully applied for a Round 10 Urban and Community Forestry Cost-Share Grant from NYS DEC.

Among other things, the funds went toward updates to the City of Buffalo’s tree inventory, condition assessment of the existing BOPC Tree Inventory and Management Plan, and priority maintenance to trees within the Buffalo Olmsted Park System.

The original tree inventory for Buffalo was performed in 2005 and updated in 2008, but by 2011, there was a need to include the 2,100 trees planted in the prior two years and a need to update the conditions report for the 11,500 trees in the database.

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