Town of Smithtown Receives $1,000,000 in Grant Funds for Urban Tree Canopy Improvement Project
The Town of Smithtown has been selected to receive $1,000,000 in USDA Urban and Community Forestry Grant program funding. On Thursday, September 14th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service announced awards for over $1 billion in grants for tree planting and maintenance in communities across the nation. The Town of Smithtown was one of the 385 grant proposals selected throughout the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. Territories and Tribal Nations to receive funding.
“We are incredibly grateful to Senator Schumer for his advocacy in securing this funding, which is a game changer to advance our Urban Forestry agenda, the result of which will allow us to improve the community quality of life and wildlife habitat, and implement a number of environmental benefits. I would like to acknowledge the incredible team we have at the Department of Environment and Waterways (DEW). The work that David Barnes, Tom Colella and Bob Barget have done in achieving this grant is no small feat. This is the culmination of years and years of dedication, exceptional work ethic and implementation of good practice truly paying off. This grant will undoubtedly serve as the catalyst to expanding cutting edge initiatives like our tree inventory, community outreach programs, and our street tree canopy, which Smithtown’s Urban Foresters and the Department of Environment and Waterways have worked tirelessly to broaden over the years. We look forward to expanding our local greenspace, which will deliver ecological benefits for generations to come.” - Supervisor Edward R. Wehrheim
Funding for the USDA’s Urban and Community Forestry Program Grants was secured through the Inflation Reduction Act and advocated for by U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. Approximately $1.5 billion for urban and community forestry investments was allocated in the Inflation Reduction Act nationwide. Grants were awarded to applicants for urban tree-planting, urban forest planning and management, and related activities, enhancing human health, the environment, and the economy.
“Since the beginning of my tenure as Environmental Protection Director a few years ago, it was apparent that street tree resources needed attention. Supervisor Wehrheim agreed that street trees are a valuable part of the Town infrastructure, and provided the resources to DEW. The Department of Environment and Waterways focused on, developed and implemented a Street Tree Management plan. This plan includes inventorying and mapping every street tree in Town. 80% of the Town, including over 27,000 individual street trees, have been completed to date. Forester Tom Colella has taken a leadership role in developing the plan specifics, as well as creating an in-house geographic map-based inventory system using existing Town resources. This work set the policies and ground work to make for a successful USDA grant application. Through this $1,000,000 grant, the Town will be able to hire and train interns to assist the Town Urban Foresters complete street tree inventory. Also, we’ll expand our educational outreach with Smithtown Schools STEM program and Kings Park Schools, with whom we had a demonstration tree planting with students, teachers, and administrators of Parkview Elementary School, as well as other schools in Smithtown. Neighborhoods will receive 2,000 new trees planted and over 3,500 trees pruned. The impact of 5,500 healthy trees will add decades of beauty and environmental benefits to Smithtown.” - David Barnes, Environmental Protection Director
The Town of Smithtown is one of three grant award recipients located on Long Island. Smithtown and North Hempstead both received $1,000,000 dollar grant awards. The City of Long Beach was awarded $100,000 for their application. The Town of Smithtown will utilize the grant funds to advance its Urban Tree Canopy Improvement Project, implement tree inventory assessments, conduct a rigorous public outreach and education initiative, while also protecting and improving the existing tree canopy through maintenance activities throughout the town. Tree planting will be conducted after a public outreach and education campaign, intended to increase awareness of the positive impacts of an urban tree canopy for quality of life, wildlife habitat and environmental benefits.