February 24, 2016, Grand Rapids, Mich. – In her State of the City address, Mayor Bliss called attention to a citywide goal of achieving 40 percent tree canopy as core to our city’s environmental sustainability and her work as mayor. In full support of this goal, Grand Rapids Community Foundation today announced a $213,000 grant to Friends of Grand Rapids Parks for the Urban Forest Project to mobilize residents to protect, enhance, and expand Grand Rapid’s urban forest.
To meet national standards for an urban city the size of Grand Rapids, an estimated 1,640 acres of additional tree canopy must be planted. To date, the Urban Forest Project has primarily focused plantings on public land. Its next phase will focus on increasing the citizen brigade and empowering neighborhoods with resources and training to grow and protect their canopy.
With this grant, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks will train people in all neighborhoods, especially those neighborhoods that have a low canopy percentage or a lack of currently identified citizen engagement with tree issues, to identify challenges and possibilities for trees within their own neighborhoods.
“Friends of Grand Rapids Parks has gained notoriety at the state and national level with numerous awards based on their initial efforts,” said Kate Luckert Schmid, program director of Grand Rapids Community Foundation. “Having a program like the Urban Forest Project right here in our own community is such an asset. We’re excited about this effort to mobilize people to address this important environmental equity issue.
Expanding the tree canopy has tremendous environmental and economic impact within the city. A tree’s leaves absorb carbon, dust and soot from the air, generate oxygen and reduce noise levels. A tree’s roots absorb water and hold soil in place to prevent erosion. Research has shown that trees increase residential property values and contribute to higher retail sales in shopping areas.
People who are interested in becoming an Urban Forester can learn more at www.urbanforestproject.com.