City Awarded $15 Million in Federal Funding to Plant and Maintain City Trees

City trees provide a critical role in purifying the air and providing shade. Federal funding will help the Parks Department maintain street and park trees for the benefit of all New Yorkers. Image Credit: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office.

On September 26, 2023, Mayor Eric Adams and Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service awarded $15 million to the City to plant and maintain the City’s trees.

Using the funding, the Parks Department will establish two programs. The New York City Forested Natural Areas Care and Job Training program will serve forested natural areas in disadvantaged communities, and will include planting native plants, the cleanup of debris and removal of invasive vegetation. The impacted parks include Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx Park, Inwood Hill Park, Kissena Corridor Park, Alley Pond Park, Pelham Bay Park, Rockaway Community Park, Arverne East Nature Preserve, and Vernam Barbadoes Preserve. This program will also include a job training program with paid internships, apprenticeships and early career employment with the Parks Department. The program will allow participants to develop skills in community stewardship, forest restoration, monitoring, and native plant growth. Of the funding, $10 million will be allocated for the Forested Natural Areas Care and Job Training program.

The second program, the Stewarding Canopy and Community in Central Queens program, will be in partnership with Trees New York and Partnerships for Parks.  The program will maximize access to urban forest for communities in Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona. Trees will be planted and preserved, and there will be community education and outreach. Paid training and employment opportunities for youth and adults will also be available. The program has been allocated $5 million.

The funding follows Parks’ recent success in planting 15,000 street and park trees across the city in the past year. Urban trees can assist in cooling, providing shade, and purifying the air. During the last fiscal year, 5,700 trees were planted in heat-vulnerable neighborhoods.

Mayor Adams stated, “I often say we have two mothers: the mother that gave birth to us and Mother Earth, the mother that sustains us. Both deserve our care, attention, and investment. This $15 million investment will cool and beautify our streets, expand job and apprenticeship opportunities to New Yorkers from underserved communities, and protect our natural areas. With the budgetary reality our city faces, we are aggressively pursuing every federal dollar available, and that work is paying off. I’m grateful to our partners at the city, state, and federal level for helping us secure these grants.”

Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi stated, “Thank you to the Biden administration and our congressional delegation for providing critical funding for our city’s trees. New York City’s trees are much more than pretty foliage for our public spaces — they lower temperatures and absorb storm water in the midst of increasingly oppressive heat and torrential rains, they clean our air, and they provide home to our wildlife. But the essential work of planting and maintaining trees also provides good green jobs for New Yorkers, helping to sustain our economy.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the Editor of CityLand and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)


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