Examples of Grant Program Projects
While any well-planned project proposal will be reviewed carefully, here are some additional ideas and/or factors to consider, in no particular order:
TREE BOARD OR SHADE TREE COMMISSION DEVELOPMENT
A grantee may create a tree board or commission to develop or administer a community forestry program. The group should be charged by ordinance and given the responsibility and authority to act on behalf of the city in coordination with a city department(s). This is one of the steps necessary for becoming a Tree City USA community.
TREE ORDINANCE (also Landscape and Tree Preservation/Conservation ordinances)
A tree ordinance may be developed or revised to address such matters as establishing municipal authority over public trees; setting standards for tree planting, maintenance and management; outlining enforcement, fees and fines; and defining nuisance conditions on private trees.
A tree conservation ordinance may be included in or be separate from the tree ordinance. The focus of such an ordinance is the regulation of the removal or planting of trees by establishing definitions, procedures, penalties and appeals necessary for enforcement.
There are many resources available for a community that wants to create its own ordinance. However, the larger the community and the more complex the issues, the more important it is to have an ordinance created and/or reviewed by an experienced and knowledgeable consultant.
Review any related by-laws that already exist before and after ordinance update or creation. This may include those related to landscaping, streets, parks, etc. Determine whether any tree elements are included or whether they might conflict with any aspects of a tree ordinance.
Consider future as well as present community needs. Having a thorough ordinance in place even when the community is not yet able to enforce all of its provisions, provides a basis and a goal for a tree program.
Among other things, a "thorough" ordinance should address:
- Tree board establishment.
- A tree master plan.
- Hazard trees.
- Boundary trees.
- Vandalism and fines.
- Line of sight.
- Tree preservation and/or conservation (which may be included in a separate ordinance).
- Professional standards to be adhered to on public and private land.
- Development and tree planting in newly developed areas.
- Contract and nursery specifications.
- Removal and pruning specifications for public and private trees.
- Approved species for planting by individuals or the community.
- Planting specifications including staking, mulching, watering, training and pruning.
A brochure explaining the ordinance and its value to the community, and one containing a list of approved tree species for planting can also be a part of an ordinance update or creation. Volunteers can be used to create and distribute brochures where appropriate.
TREE INVENTORIES, BENEFITS ANALYSIS, CANOPY MAPPING
Tree inventories are the basis of urban tree management. Managing community trees requires knowing the number and condition of the trees as well as standards for their maintenance, removal and replacement. Assessment of the benefits of urban trees can help justify management program costs, direct planning goals and quantify the cost benefits of trees and green space to a community.
MASTER TREE PLANS
Following a complete tree inventory a community has a basis for creating a master tree plan. This further establishes the commitment of the community to managing the urban forest. Generally, a master tree plan includes planning for future plantings, open space management and enhancement and protecting existing green spaces. A plan should reflect goals established by the tree board, city departments and city council and should address selection, placement, planting, maintenance and replacement of community trees. It may also address administrative, policy and budgeting needs. Effective plans often start with analysis of data collected through inventories or assessments and provide for periodic reviews and updates. Grant funds may be used to contract with qualified consultants, publish plans, etc.
Since the purpose of the grant program is to encourage communities to develop and strengthen urban forestry programs, funds for tree planting are limited and therefore highly competitive and carefully scrutinized. If you are requesting tree planting funds, the proposal must demonstrate how the project will help develop or enhance a community forestry program. The total grant request may be up to $15,000; however, the following tree planting limits have been established:
Tree City USA Communities & Tree Campus USA schools: $5,000 tree planting limit and the proposal must be submitted by the city (with a community tree board as a partner) or be submitted by a closely allied organization partnering with the city and tree board.
Other Communities and organizations: $3,000 tree planting limit.
While tree purchases are limited under the grant, and stand-alone tree planting projects are typically not funded, trees can be included as part of a larger program, particularly when volunteers are involved. Some examples of how tree planting can enhance a project proposal:
- Tree planting in low-income areas, particularly when combined with neighborhood involvement and a tree adoption program
- Projects which have a commitment to using native species of large and small trees, when they emphasize natural restoration, wildlife habitat or conservation priorities, and community/volunteer involvement
- Planting/replacement projects which follow a prior tree inventory or hazard tree inventory project, and are part of a master tree plan, will be considered for a one-time grant.
- Tree planting projects which demonstrate benefits for economic development, energy conservation or utility line compatibility, particularly when combined with other educational activities/methods, are good projects.
- Community events that promote correct tree planting methods and educate the public are valuable.
- Purchase promotions may also be a part of the program. For example, a grantee could offer every household that attends a tree planting workshop a coupon for $20 to a local nursery to purchase a tree from a specified list of large native species. The grant would cover half of the coupon value (to a $10 maximum) and the expenditure would need to be documented for reimbursement.
Tree planting plans must be created for all projects with species selection, placement, design, reasonably detailed site drawings, installation and a 3-year commitment to tree care and maintenance. Grant funds may be used to contract with qualified consultants, such as urban foresters, landscape architects, etc.
TEMPORARY POCKET PARK CREATION
This is a very specific and limited project for a community with a vacant lot in the downtown area that may be private or community owned. If there is little else in the way of vegetation in the area, the creation of a small park area is an option. Such a project will require a written commitment that the site will not be developed for at least five years. A small park with native plants/small trees, benches etc. can be created with minimal hardscape. The reduction of trash and weeds and the promotion of habitat and green space are beneficial to any community. The use of horticulture clubs, school groups etc., particularly with adoption by a group, for maintenance can meet in-kind obligations. Should the lot eventually be developed, the park will have to be dismantled, but at that time moving some of the trees to another site may be eligible for a new grant.
NATURALIZATION PROJECTS OR GREENWAY DEVELOPMENT
These types of projects can be combined with tree planting where native species are used and environmental benefits to the community are emphasized within a larger management context. Planning and development, assessments and studies, maps and drawings, promotional and educational materials may be eligible for funding when matched with a solid volunteer and in-kind staffing match. Forest buffers connecting corridors between fragmented wooded areas, riparian buffers/protection, or reduction of mowing maintenance in municipal parks through edge naturalization are some projects that will be considered for grants.
Finding and funding trees of a suitable size for ongoing planting projects is a challenge for many communities or groups. The establishment of a small tree nursery with as few as 25 trees maintained by a consistent core of well-organized and proven volunteers is one possible way to address this issue. Once the nursery has been established through a grant, the volunteer program can be used to plant trees on public land or to even provide trees for neighborhood planting projects for a per tree fee, which can help fund the next series of seedling purchases. Continuous grant support for maintaining a volunteer nursery is not available.
TREE CARE WORKSHOPS & DEMONSTRATIONS
Workshops which present tree care to members of the community, municipal staff, condo/facilities managers, developers and local tree care contractors can be considered for funding. Tree species/site selection, training, pruning, mulching, fertilizing, landscaping, watering, pest management, hazard tree management, tree protection measures during construction, cabling and bracing, and proper equipment are some of the topics that can be covered in a workshop.
Maintenance demonstrations are limited to communities with a population of less than 50,000 and must be held on public land and be accessible by the public. The services of a tree care professional (certified with the International Society of Arboriculture) or a tree care company accredited by the Tree Care Industry Association are required and the match is a cash match only.
TRAINING , EDUCATION & BROCHURES
Educational activities include attendance at, or presentation of, urban forestry related training sessions (including workshops) for tree board members, local officials, city personnel, contractors, private tree care workers, community volunteers and the public. Projects may involve local presentations by consultants, or the sponsoring or attending of workshops, conferences, seminars or meetings. The programs must be advertised broadly and made available to all interested parties, neighboring communities and related interest groups and businesses. Grant funds may also be used to purchase training videos, publications and reference materials.
Other educational opportunities include the development or purchase of educational materials that increase public awareness and understanding of urban tree values and the benefits of tree care. Examples include newsletters, brochures, videos, slide programs, web pages, CD-ROMs, exhibits, etc. Materials may be for general distribution or may target a specific audience. In general, grant funds may not be used to develop materials that replicate existing products that are available for purchase. Educational and awareness efforts targeted to youth audiences, youth-at-risk, underserved groups (identified by ethnicity or economic situation or geographic remoteness) and designed to enhance an understanding of community trees and forests are also encouraged. Web pages require a long-term maintenance commitment.
The NeighborWoods program promotes tree planting in the community by coordinating businesses and volunteers, as well as homeowners. The program requires commitment, pre-planning and organization but has been adapted very successfully by many communities in the U.S., including Raleigh and Greensboro. The program promotes healthy urban spaces and the development of partnerships to bring together residents, local businesses, and the municipality to plant and care for street trees in the public rights-of-way.
- Partnering with a municipality to establish a program for staff support where possible.
- Contacting utility suppliers, local businesses, organizations and agencies for tree purchase funding.
- Advertising volunteer opportunities through local media.
- Arranging for tree purchases with local nurseries or a local volunteer tree nursery (another grant-eligible project).
- Tree planning, which involves planning which trees should be planted where, and basic instruction sessions with a forestry consultant about tree planting.
- Identification planting sites, ordering trees, and establishing delivery dates.
- Evaluating program successes and areas for improvement.
- Volunteer commitment
- Resident participation
- Cooperation from local government
- Funding Needs:
- Media advertisements
- Print materials for distribution
- Trees, which may be donated or purchase through grant funding.
NON-PROFIT PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT
To be eligible, an organization must qualify as a non-profit under state and federal guidelines. New applicants to the grant program under this category must provide information about the organization's mission, structure and past activities in regard to urban and community forestry.
Funding is available to assist in:
- Staffing and administration to employ or contract with part-time or full-time (temporary) staff, or to establish internships to assist in program development or expansion of urban and community forestry activities. Duties may include organizing volunteer or educational efforts or administrative support. The grant may also be used as "seed money" to assist in establishing a permanent position or to provide support for a particular project. Position qualifications and duties must be included in the proposal.
- Volunteer training and coordination for new or expanded activities designed to enhance the role of volunteers in the community's local urban forestry program.
- Development of education materials/workshops which are not specific to the activities of the organization but focused on educating the public regarding urban forestry issues etc.
SPECIAL FUNDING CATEGORY
You must contact the urban forestry staff to discuss this option prior to submitting a proposal.
- Special projects, eligible for a maximum grant request of $30,000, are intended to encourage the development of creative and innovative proposals to address urban and community forestry needs and issues on a regional or statewide scale.