26 Projects Awarded Funding from the Cuyahoga County Healthy Tree Canopy Grant Program

The County’s Climate Change Action Plan pledged $1 million per year for tree canopy revitalization.

During the first year of the Cuyahoga County Urban Tree Canopy Grant Program, the County will invest $950,000 into its tree canopy by funding 26 projects for tree plans and tree planting and maintenance projects sponsored by area municipalities, neighborhoods, and nonprofits. This funding will spur the creation of 18 tree plans, nine tree maintenance plans and 14 tree inventories.

This innovative grant achieves an action identified in the County’s 2019 Climate Change Action Plan through the annual contribution of $1 million dollars for each of the next five years to revitalize the tree canopy in Cuyahoga County. The County’s 2013 Urban Tree Canopy Assessment showed 110,000 acres (37.6 percent) of all land in Cuyahoga County is tree canopy, with an additional 371,000 acres available for possible tree canopy.

In this initial year for the Urban Tree Canopy Grant program funding, many municipalities indicated they had lots of need but little ability to plan for where or how to plant trees. The funding made possible this year will allow communities to lay the groundwork for subsequent planning in a sustainable and responsible manner. Many cities with the lowest percentage of canopy do not have an existing urban forestry management plan or an active tree commission; therefore, this will be the first time many are addressing their tree canopy issues.

 “Our first round of tree grants will set the stage for hundreds of thousands of trees to be planted in the future,” said Mike Foley, Director of the Department of Sustainability. “This process was fascinating in understanding the needs local governments have for their urban forests. Most of these first-year grants will go toward helping communities hire foresters and arborists to figure out concretely where and what types of trees need to be grown and really start planning for the long haul of developing a healthy urban tree canopy.”

A few proposers such as Lakewood and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy will start implementation this year. A total of 1,165 trees will be planted throughout the county during this first phase. In addition, some monies are being granted to create and establish local nurseries which will develop local, native plant stock. Besides offering a Cuyahoga County option for nursery-raised trees, these nurseries will create jobs and develop a new eco-friendly industry for the county.

“Planting more trees in our community will have a significant positive impact on the lives and health of our residents and community,” said County Executive Armond Budish. “I’d like to thank our many partners in this effort, including the Soil and Water Conservation District, The County Planning Commission, The Cuyahoga County Board of Health, The Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, The Tree Canopy Coalition and many others.”

The County has also dedicated grant funds to Cleveland Neighborhood Progress for the identification of five separate sites to establish large groves of trees in areas of need for planting in 2020.

The County will soon receive new raw data from the 2019 Cuyahoga County Tree Canopy Update showing the current state of the tree canopy. This new assessment of the County’s Tree Canopy will illustrate for communities where the tree canopy coverage has changed over the past five years. Raw data will be examined at the beginning of September, with official numbers expected this fall.

“Preliminary results for the most recent update of the Cuyahoga County Tree Canopy study show a slight decline in the County’s overall tree canopy,” said Cuyahoga County Planning Commission Interim Director, Susan Infeld. “The new Healthy Urban Tree Canopy Grant Program, which is funding tree projects to combat this trend, is a timely and necessary intervention.”

Municipalities that did not receive grant funding in this first round or would be interested in obtaining grant funds for implementation will have the opportunity to apply again in early 2020.

Media Contact: Mary Louise Madigan: (216) 698-2521, mlmadigan@cuyahogacounty.us