New Urban Forest Carbon Registry Will Create Revenue for City Trees

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Story and images by Mark McPherson, Executive Director of the Urban Forest Carbon Registry

The urban forests of the U.S. are long overdue to earn certified carbon credits. Carbon buyers purchased $700 million in carbon credits in the U.S. over the last decade ($4.5 billion worldwide). Yet not a single dollar of that money can go to the trees in the cities and towns of America.

Everyone in urban forestry knows the documented benefits of ecosystem services provided by trees in cities, yet urban forests receive relatively little funding as municipalities struggle to meet basic utility and human service needs. Furthermore, urban tree canopy is being lost in many cities due to growth and development.

The Urban Forest Carbon Registry (the Registry) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is working to make it possible for urban tree planting and preservation projects to earn and sell carbon credits. Money from the sale of the credits would go directly to the projects that earned those credits.

The Registry has developed practical carbon protocols for urban forestry projects. These protocols, one for tree planting and one for tree preservation, will be the “rulebooks” that projects must follow to earn certified credits.

The Registry assembled a drafting group of national stakeholders from many areas of urban forestry including Greg McPherson, Scott Maco, and Andy Trotter to address the quantification issues—as well as representatives of municipal forestry, non-profit tree organizations, utilities, transportation professionals, and watershed experts. You can view the protocols on the Registry website at www.ufregistry.org.

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Governor Cuomo Once Again Supports $1 Million for Urban Forestry

Good news! For FY 2017-2018, Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget once again designates $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), including $1 million for urban forestry for the second year in a row. This will ensure another round of EPF/cost-share grants either later this year or in 2018.

NYS Urban Forestry Program Coordinator Mary Kramarchyk says, “These grants help large and small communities plant and maintain trees. Trees provide myriad ecological and economic benefits in addition to the aesthetic benefits most of us are aware of. Among these, trees sequester carbon, aid grey infrastructure in stormwater mitigation, and enhance the economic vitality of our downtown areas.”

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Governor Cuomo’s recommended allocation to EPF. Add 000 to each figure.

2017 Arbor Day Grant Notice & Application Packet!

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The NYS Urban Forestry Council is pleased to announce available funding for small communities to have an Arbor Day tree planting event and to establish a community based forestry program. This funding has been provided by the USDA Forest Service and the NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program (and is NOT associated with the Arbor Day Foundation nor part of the NYS DEC EPF community grants program).

2017 Arbor Day Grant information packet

Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded to communities or non-profits (that work in partnership with communities) to celebrate Arbor Day 2017 by both planting a tree (or trees) and forming a volunteer tree committee or tree board within the municipality. To be considered for a grant, please complete and return the enclosed application.

The intention of this grant is to help promote and establish a meaningful community forestry program. Ineligible for a grant are communities that are currently a Tree City USA, or those that have any component of the Tree City USA program such as a tree ordinance, tree board, inventory or management plan. Previous grant awardees are also ineligible.

Applications are due by February 28, 2017 and award recipients will be notified by the third week of March. 2017 Arbor Day Grant information packet

 

Round 13 Cost-Share Grants! Application Period,Webinar,Case Studies

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Baldcypress grove in Buffalo’s Forest Lawn Cemetery. Photo by Michelle Sutton

Round 13 of the NYSDEC Urban Forestry Grants Program was announced on December 22, 2016. NYSDEC Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced the availability of $2.3 million for Round 13. Applications are due by March 1, 2017.

These are the four categories: · Tree inventory · Tree management plan · Tree planting · Tree maintenance

Awards range from $11,000 to $75,000, depending on municipal population. Municipalities with populations of 65,000 or greater are eligible for grants up to $75,000. Towns with populations less than 65,000 are able to apply for up to $50,000. For inventory and management plan grants, no match is required. For planting and maintenance grants, there is a required 25% match.

These grants are made available through the Environmental Protection Fund to municipalities, nonprofits, soil and water conservation districts, school districts, community colleges, Indian nations or tribes, public benefit corporations, and public authorities.

A free webinar about the grant application process will be offered on Thursday, January 5th at 2 p.m. Registration is required.

To see the instructions and application, Go to the NYS Grants Gateway then go to Browse Opportunities > DEC > 2016 Urban and Community Forestry Grants Program (Round 13)- Tree Planting or Tree Maintenance Projects.

On our NYSUFC blog you can see examples of what the following municipalities and other entities did with their past cost-share grant dollars, excerpts from their application narratives, and advice they have to offer to new applicants:

Fayetteville
ReTree Schenectady
Norwich
Trees NY
Red Hook
Buffalo
Scottsville
Nyack

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Arbor Day Planting in Perry with Funding from Council

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Volunteers prep to plant a weeping larch in Perry’s Village Park on Arbor Day 2016.             Photos by Steve Townes 

The Village of Perry is another community that received Arbor Day 2016 funding through our Council in partnership with the DEC. Perry Tree Advisory Board Chair and Village Trustee Eleanor Jacobs sent in this report. 

Securing the NYSUFC Arbor Day Community Grant was the first major accomplishment of the recently formed Village of Perry Tree Advisory Board (TAB). The group’s excitement at this achievement can’t be over-emphasized.

To implement the grant, the TAB worked with Village Parks Director Renee Koziel to select locations in the Village park to plant nine trees. The TAB selected the varieties of ginkgo, weeping larch, and Japanese white pine—and Ms. Koziel bought these from the Village’s tree supplier. The goals were to diversify tree plantings in the Village park, fill in spaces where trees were lacking, and plan for the future where trees may have to be removed.

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Arbor Day 2016 Celebration in Pound Ridge

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Carolynn Sears (Conservation and Tree Board) , Michael Kagan (Pound Ridge Land Conservancy), Susan Lee (Pound Ridge Garden Club), Bonnie Schwartz (Town Board), Gail Jankus (Planning), and Richard Lyman (Town Supervisor) admire one of the twin American Beeches planted near the Pound Ridge Town House on Arbor Day. Photo by Jody Sullivan

The 2016 Arbor Day celebration in Pound Ridge (pop: app 5100), a town in Westchester County, took place over several days. An Arbor Day grant from the NYSUFC in partnership with the NYSDEC funded the purchase of a 3.5″-caliper, 12-foot-tall American beech and an ID plaque to go with it.

Pound Ridge Conservation and Tree Board Chair Carrie Sears says, “One aspect of our celebration that I am particularly proud of is the collaboration between the Town, the local Garden Club, the Land Conservancy, and Bartlett Tree Experts. And the Pound Ridge Highway and Maintenance Department continued to water the trees throughout a very long, dry summer.”

In this post, Sears recounts the Town’s celebration:

Thank you for funding the Pound Ridge 2016 Arbor Day celebration, which promoted an urban forestry program in the community in many ways. Our celebration included four different events and the planting of five native dogwoods, two American beech trees, and over 100 seedlings from the NYSDEC Saratoga Tree Nursery in different locations in the community. It also included a hands-on workshop, “Your Land and Our Water: Computer Modeling of Local Watersheds,” which allowed participants to see how trees make a difference in watershed protection. 

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NYSUFC Partners with NYSDEC to Award Arbor Day Project Grants

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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.

 

 

Funding Your Urban Forest Program: A Guide for City Foresters and their Allies 

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Author Jenny Gulick

by Jennifer Gulick, Senior Consulting Community Forester, Davey Resource GroupJenny.gulick@davey.com

This article originally appeared to broad acclaim in City Trees, the magazine of the Society of Municipal Arborists. It has comprehensive advice on funding for urban and community forestry programs of all sizes–from the seasoned to the brand-new.  

Remember the good old days when we had all the money we needed for our urban forestry programs? No? Well, me either. In over three decades of being a municipal forester, whether working for the City of Cincinnati or consulting for other communities, I’ve never heard anyone say, “Budget increase? No thank you; we’re good.”

We’ve always needed more funding. Traditionally, municipal urban forest management program funding comes from one primary source—the general fund—with some pocket-change revenue from capital budgets, grants, and even firewood sales.

But these days, urban forest managers and their allies need to take a page from a financial advisor’s playbook and seek and secure funding from multiple sources so our budgets are sustainable and to ensure against the shifting sands of the national economy and local politics. Funding for urban forest management can also be affected by factors such as competing departmental budgetary priorities, changes in public opinion, newly elected leadership, and severe weather events.

When it comes to our budgets, we need to heed our own advice against monocultures. We shouldn’t rely on just one funding source, because you never know what will happen. And, as our personal financial planners would tell us, in order to maintain a viable urban forestry program under changing conditions in an unpredictable future, diversifying our funding sources will minimize the impacts of funding cuts from any one area.

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Albany Tree Planting & Urban Forestry Funding from TD Bank

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St. Rose students and employees, TD Bank staff, and City of Albany employees planted trees around Albany’s Hoffman Park in October 2015. Photo by Lisa Thomson

Savvy community forestry programs are always on the lookout for funding opportunities. One avenue is through two urban forestry related programs of TD Bank: TD Tree Days, and TD Green Streets. Through TD Tree Days, City of Albany Forester Tom Pfeiffer and College of St. Rose Instructor and Science Education Problem-Based Learning Coordinator Mary Cosgrove received a grant from TD Bank to plant 30 trees in Albany around Hoffman Park. TD Bank volunteers and students and staff from St. Rose, guided by Pfeiffer and his crew from the City of Albany, planted the trees on October 27, 2015.

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NATIONAL GRID’S “10,000 TREES…AND GROWING” PROGRAM: CAN IT HELP YOUR UPSTATE COMMUNITY FOREST GROW?

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The massive 1998 ice storm in upstate NY left thousands in the St. Lawrence valley without power for weeks and caused widespread, catastrophic damage to community trees and utility infrastructure alike.

Who would think that the massive grey clouds that settled over upstate New York in the winter and summer of 1998 could possibly have silver linings? The 10,000 TREES program was developed in 1999 to assist upstate New York communities within the Niagara Mohawk Power Corp (NMPC) service territory that had sustained extensive street tree and urban forest losses and damages in the ice and wind storms of 1998.

10,000 TREES initially assisted 42 communities in planting more than 11,000 trees during the first three years of the program. Through proper species selection and placement (aka Right Tree, Right Place), participating communities planted trees with some of those planting costs offset through contributions from the 10,000 TREES program. One key facet of the planting was ensuring that trees were utility-line compatible.

Building upon that success and with many empty spaces still remaining within served communities, National Grid (the successor to NMPC) was pleased to continue assisting communities in their street replanting projects in the form of the 10,000 TREES … AND GROWING program. Utility-compatible, low-growing trees planted successfully under overhead electric lines that are accepted under the guidelines of the program receive a contribution reimbursement of $50/tree from National Grid.

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One of NYSUFC’s founding members and head of ReTree Schenectady, Dr. Betsy Henry, is presented by National Grid’s Brian Skinner with a reimbursement check for trees planted within 10,000 Trees … and Growing program guidelines.

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