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Nearly $800,000 in urban forestry grants announced

ALBANY - In honor of National Arbor Day, Urban Forestry grants totaling $797,437 were awarded to communities and organizations across the state. During a ceremony at the Empire State Plaza in Albany, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the State Arbor Day Committee, which consists of several state agencies and industry associations, joined other state and local officials for an annual tree planting event in conjunction with the grants announcement.

“Arbor Day and Earth Week give all New Yorkers an opportunity to reflect on the old saying: we have not inherited the earth from our parents, we are borrowing it from our children,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “These grants which will help us protect trees in communities around New York are part of our State’s commitment to that ideal. I congratulate the grant recipients on their efforts, and look forward to seeing their work build a greener New York State.”

Arbor Day is a nationally-celebrated observance that promotes tree planting and tree care, and also highlights the importance of trees to our environment, our economy and our quality of life. Founded by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska in 1872, National Arbor Day is celebrated each year on the last Friday in April. It was established to encourage farmers and homesteaders to plant trees that would provide shade, shelter, food, fuel and beauty to open areas.

This year, $797,437 in Urban and Community Forestry grants were awarded to 34 cities, towns, villages and not-for-profit organizations across the state. A list of grant recipients can be found below. The grants, which are funded from the State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), support a variety of projects such as community tree planting and tree inventories and management plans, as well as green infrastructure projects to assist in storm water management.

“Arbor Day is a great reminder of the value trees play in our daily lives and their role in protecting and enhancing our environment and quality of life,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “Trees help improve air quality, reduce energy consumption and beautify the landscape in New York’s urban areas. The grants announced today will help community green professionals and volunteers utilize best management practices to protect existing trees and plant new trees, which will increase the benefits they provide.”

This year’s event was held at the north end of the Empire State Plaza, located in the center of downtown Albany. The site is filled with northern red oak trees and serves as a popular lunchtime destination for state employees and visitors to Albany. Tree “price tags” adorned the red oaks to demonstrate the benefits of these trees; for example, one tree in the park provides, on average, $1,500 in benefits over a 15-year period. This year’s ceremonial tree was donated by Northern Nurseries in Schenectady.

For more information about celebrating Arbor Day, contact a local DEC office, visit www.dec.ny.gov/lands/5274.html