NYS DEC Cost Share Grants & The Fayetteville Example

Trees in Fayetteville's Beard Park were pruned as part of the Village's successful grant. Photo by Kristen Pechacek
Trees in Fayetteville’s Beard Park were pruned as part of the Village’s successful grant. Photo by Kristen Pechacek

About the NYS DEC Cost Share Grant Program

NYS DEC is committed to providing support and assistance to communities in comprehensive planning, management, and education to create healthy urban and community forests and to enhance the quality of life for urban residents through its Cost Share Grant program.

The availability of the next round of funds will be announced in late spring 2015, and the due date for applications provided at that time. At least $900,000 in grants will be available to municipalities, public benefit corporations, public authorities, school districts and not-for-profit organizations that have a public ownership interest in the property or are acting on behalf of a public property owner.

Communities may request from $2,500 to $50,000, depending on municipal population. Funds are made available from the Environmental Protection Fund and will be managed and allocated by DEC.

Projects must be located on public properties or rights-of-way, and must be equally matched by local resources. Applications for projects include these grant categories: street tree planting, tree maintenance, tree inventory, urban forestry management plans, and reforestation grants.

DEC staff will review the completed grant applications. Recipients will be chosen based on the established rating criteria including cost effectiveness, project budget, projected benefits, use of recommended standards for implementation, community outreach and education, local support, and regional impact.

In 2014 (Round 12), $1,000,000 in grant projects were funded, many of which are now underway! The State UCF Coordinator is Mary Kramarchyk, (518) 402-9425. DEC foresters are available to provide applicants with technical assistance; phone numbers for foresters in each region are available here.

Grantee Spotlight: Fayetteville

In June, 2012 Fayetteville successfully applied for a tree maintenance (pruning) grant in the Round 11 award season. The small Village DPW tree crew does takedowns, tree planting, and some pruning, but a cycle of major structural pruning was due. The grant application was co-written by Fayetteville Tree Commission Chair and longtime NYSUFC Council leader Pat Tobin and Tree Commission member Kristen Pechacek.

Pruning cuts on a European elm tree in Fayetteville. Photo by Kristen Pechacek
Pruning cuts on a European elm tree in Fayetteville. Photo by Kristen Pechacek

The assessing and pruning was done by Bartlett Tree Experts, with in-kind cleanup/debris removal performed by the Village DPW. Pat Tobin says, “I was amazed at how much the contractor could do and what a difference it made in such a short time. They moved so quickly and skillfully down our old, historic streets. Implementation went very smoothly. Of course, the DPW’s role was key as well.”

Tobin advises tree commissions who are thinking about applying for the Cost Share Grants to have in place good relationships with your municipal administrators and DPW, as you will need their help putting together a budget for the project and providing the matching work or funds. “We are lucky to have such a good relationship with our Village administrators and DPW,” Tobin says.

She also advises studying the grant application instructions very closely so as to avoid leaving out important details that could make the appeal less successful (applications are “scored” for meeting key criteria as described in the instructions). Since pruning is a cyclical need, Tobin says Fayetteville plans to once again apply for a follow-up tree maintenance grant for major pruning work.

What follows is the bulk of their successful Project Narrative. Note the specificity of the narrative (like references to specific neighborhoods; the DBH above which volunteers can’t be expected to safely prune; the use of supplemental documents like budget, map, and newsletter; and the enumeration of partnerships). This is a great template/model for your use!

Red oaks in Fayetteville were pruned for crossing branches and road clearance, were limbed up, and dead limbs removed. Photo by Kristen Pechacek
Red oaks in Fayetteville were pruned for crossing branches and road clearance, were limbed up, and dead limbs removed. Photo by Kristen Pechacek

Village of Fayetteville, New York, DEC Cost Share Grant Application, Round 11

The Village of Fayetteville will contract with a professional tree service provider/arborist to perform structural and dead wood pruning in a section of our municipality. Our Department of Public Works will perform all the necessary debris removal.

The Village of Fayetteville is applying for a Community Grant for Tree Maintenance. The grant money will be used to contract with a professional tree service provider to perform structural and dead wood pruning on trees above 10 inches DBH that cannot be addressed safely reached by Fayetteville’s volunteer pruners.

The location of the proposed project consists of five residential neighborhoods, with one public park, the village’s historic senior center, a church, and several historic cemeteries. The project area includes 271 trees identified in five neighborhoods east of County Route 257. Please see the attached map to view the neighborhoods to be pruned within the village (Exhibit 1).

Our proposed tree maintenance project begins with contracting a professional tree service provider, specifically their certified arborist, to assess public trees located in one designated portion of our village. The Village of Fayetteville has already done this for the past two years as part of our ongoing tree management plan. This assessment includes identifying trees that need to be pruned as follows: correct structure for strong branch development; prune to avoid interference with streets, sidewalks, and utilities; and remove dead and broken branches to improve property values and to increase our environmental and quality of life benefits.

Please see the attached budgetary estimate and work description provided by Bartlett Tree Experts (Exhibit 2). The Village of Fayetteville DPW will be responsible for all cleanup, removal, and grinding of all pruning debris (Exhibit 3).

Ornamental pears and other trees in Fayetteville were pruned for crossing branches, tree health, and sidewalk clearance. Photo by Kristen Pechacek
Ornamental pears and other trees in Fayetteville were pruned for crossing branches, tree health, and sidewalk clearance. Photo by Kristen Pechacek

If awarded this grant, it will be the third year that Fayetteville will contract with an expert to prune another section of our village’s trees. Both the Tree Commission and the DPW feel it is of utmost importance to maintain the health of the many “Right Tree, Right Place” trees that we have planted since the Commission was formed in 1991. The two previous pruning projects have been well received by residents within the village and many have expressed their gratitude when attending our educational urban forestry booth at the annual Fayetteville First festival. Each year at our booth we pass out information regarding tree care including proper planting, watering, pruning, and mulching, as well as information relating to Asian Long Horned Beetle and the Emerald Ash Borer.

The Tree Commission also reaches out to the community in other ways such as through our web page on the Village website, where residents can read about tree care and Commission events (Exhibit 4). A section of the Village’s quarterly newsletter is dedicated to the Tree Commission; there, our Village board liaison trustee (Exhibit 5) informs the residents about the benefits of our previous grant award.

Most importantly, our Commission members, who are all volunteers, appreciate the one-on-one opportunities we have to talk with fellow residents while we are pruning our street trees or during our annual planting projects. We continually inform and educate Village residents about the value of the tree canopy in Fayetteville and why it is so important to maintain our trees through correct pruning and maintenance.

The Fayetteville Tree Commission was formed in 1991 and over the years has developed many partnerships. In 2005, we partnered with the Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension NY State Regional Team to conduct a Student Weekend Arborist Team (SWAT) street tree inventory (Exhibit 7). (Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute (UHI) Director Nina Bassuk came with the SWAT team and provided excellent oversight.) The resulting inventory has proven exceptionally useful to our Village. We learned about the numbers of trees within our community, their financial value, and the environmental benefits they offer. The inventory has been a great tool to educate our residents and village officials about the value of our street trees.

Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) is a key partner in other ways: Each fall, the Fayetteville Tree Commission plants many bare root trees as part of the CCE community tree buying partnership. To select appropriate trees for our sites, we are guided by the UHI’s Recommended Urban Trees guide.

Since 1991, we have partnered many times with Bartlett Tree Experts to assist us with the maintenance of our street trees as needed (Exhibit 8). We communicate often with their arborist for advice and continued education. For many years, we have also partnered with National Grid, sponsor of the 10,000 Trees and Growing planting program, which provides financial assistance to municipalities as they seek to plant appropriate trees under utility lines.

The Fayetteville Tree Commission also partners with other local tree commissions, the DEC Region 7 ReLeaf committee, and the NYS Urban Forestry Council. Our most important partnership is with our own Village officials and Department of Public Works. By staying in contact with them throughout the year, we maintain a good relationship and our tree canopy benefits from the best planting, pruning, and watering methods possible.

The Fayetteville maple in this photo was pruned for crossing branches and limbed up. Photo by Kristen Pechacek
The Fayetteville maple in this photo was limbed up and crossing branches removed. Photo by Kristen Pechacek

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