Trust for Public Land Applauds USDA’s Unprecedented Investment of Urban and Community Forestry Funding
TPL Will Help Communities Access Inflation Reduction Act Funds to Create Cooling Tree Canopy in Schoolyards Across America
Washington, D.C. – Trust for Public Land (TPL) applauded today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarding more than $1 billion to states, local governments, Tribes, and nonprofit organizations for urban and community forestry. These funds were provided as part of last year’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the largest-ever federal commitment to combatting climate change. TPL is excited to partner with USDA to focus a portion of the Urban and Community Forestry Program funding specifically on tree planting and nature-based solutions in America’s schoolyards. This critical investment will provide cooling, health, and learning benefits for students and school communities in historically marginalized neighborhoods across the country.
The IRA’s historic infusion of critically needed funding into the Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program was enacted specifically to bring the climate benefits of trees and green spaces to all Americans, particularly in historically underinvested and disadvantaged communities where lack of tree cover has exacerbated ever-increasing heat island, public health, and economic challenges. TPL will use the awarded $10 million grant from this program to expand its longstanding commitment to address these interrelated issues, and to enhance equitable access to the outdoors, through the development of forested community schoolyards.
A statement from Diane Regas, President of Trust for Public Land on the USDA’s announcement of $10 million awarded to TPL for urban and community forestry investment:
This grant from the USDA represents an important step toward creating healthier, more resilient communities across America. We applaud the USDA for recognizing the urgent need to combat extreme heat and climate change, and for their commitment to investing in the well-being of communities that have long been marginalized.
The grant funds allocated to TPL will primarily be directed toward tree plantings and stewardship in community schoolyards, with a specific focus on historically underinvested neighborhoods. This initiative seeks to address the pressing challenges of extreme heat and climate change by changing the systems of how school grounds in disadvantaged communities are designed, maintained, and stewarded for student learning and community use. This investment is part of a broader commitment by the USDA and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to provide over $1 billion in tree planting grants for urban neighborhoods where more than 84% of Americans live, work, and play.
In cities across the country, parks can be 15 to 20 degrees cooler than surrounding areas. Research has shown that this cooling effect, with urban canopy investment, extends up to half a mile from a park’s boundaries. Additionally, parks and public lands play a crucial role in carbon sequestration and air pollution filtration. Urban forests annually remove an estimated 711,000 metric tons of air pollution and capture over 90 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Access to green space and tree canopy cover significantly influences the quality of life for residents across the nation. Regrettably, low-income and historically marginalized communities have historically suffered from a lack of adequate tree cover, largely due to systemic underinvestment. Consequently, these communities are disproportionately affected by urban heat islands and extreme heat, which exacerbate health, climate resilience, and learning inequities.
TPL deeply appreciates the opportunity to join with USDA in its commitment to creating healthier, more equitable, and climate-resilient communities. This investment marks a significant milestone in our collective efforts to combat climate change and enhance the well-being of all Americans.”
About Trust for Public Land
Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.