Grand Rapids Community Foundation awarded Friends of Grand Rapids Parks’ Urban Forest Project $189,200 to engage the community in planting and growing a larger, healthier urban forest. With this grant, the Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project will expand its volunteer capacity and provide essential community education and training, a vital component in its mission to protect and add 1,500 acres of additional tree canopy in partnership with the City of Grand Rapids.
The Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project goal is to maximize the Grand Rapids tree canopy to ensure everyone in Grand Rapids experiences the cultural, social, economic, public health, and environmental benefits of trees. The Urban Forest Project engages citizens in inventorying, mapping, planting, pruning, and protecting Grand Rapids’ trees. Additionally, the project is equipping new Citizen Forester volunteers to add experience and value to volunteer events and rally community support for neighborhood trees.
“Growing our urban tree canopy is important not just for us – but for all the future generations after us. It’s about health, it’s about the environment, it’s about the future health of our city,” said Community Foundation President Diana Sieger. “Empowering citizens to take ownership in making a healthier, more sustainable future is a high priority for us as a Community Foundation, and we are thrilled to partner with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks’ Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project in making this a reality.”
Grand Rapids Community Foundation helped Friends of Grand Rapids Parks launch the Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project with an initial $253,825 investment in December 2011. Since then, the initiative has:
-engaged thousands of volunteers in planting 489 trees in city parks and parkways
-received 2 national awards; the National Arbor Day Award for Excellence in Urban Forest Leadership and a volunteer, Dotti Clune, received the National Volunteer of the Year Award from the Alliance for Community Trees
-become the 5th City in the nation to launch the open source tree map
-leveraged over $125,000 in new grants and sponsorships to support tree planting and education efforts.
In addition, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks recently launched the crowd-sourced, online tree map app for iPhone and Android and an online resource center available in the app stores and at www.urbanforestproject.com.
“We are thrilled about the opportunity to build on the success of the Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project,” said Steve Faber, Executive Director of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. “We couldn’t predict a couple years ago how successful the launch of this initiative would be, and the community is embracing the project and really getting behind supporting our urban forest in Grand Rapids by rolling up their sleeves and helping to get the work done.”
To get involved, visit http://www.urbanforestproject.com/volunteering or contact Lee Mueller, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks Urban Forest Project Coordinator, at 616-389-4687.