Grand Rapids to receive Arbor Day Foundation grant for tree planting

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Courtesy Friends of GR Parks

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks and the Mayor’s Greening Initiative will receive a grant to increase their tree planting during the next year.

The Lincoln, Nebraska-based Arbor Day Foundation said last week that Bank of America provided a $250,000 grant to support efforts to increase the number of trees planted in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in four U.S. cities, including Grand Rapids.

The other three cities receiving grants are Mesa, Arizona; Philadelphia; and Columbia, South Carolina.

This is the third grant Bank of America provided to the Arbor Day Foundation’s Community Resiliency Grant program, totaling $750,000 since 2019. The program helps to drive more green infrastructure projects, expands tree equity, builds on sustainability efforts and increases resiliency in urban communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

In partnership with the Mayor’s Greening Initiative, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks will use its portion of the grant to enhance its community resilience by planting 1,500 neighborhood trees, address stormwater runoff mitigation, and improve greenspace and wildlife habitats. Over the next year, 10 planting events will take place in the Roosevelt Park and Black Hills neighborhoods.

“Communities with barriers to basic resources — including trees and green space — are often those most deeply impacted by climate change and natural disasters,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “In partnership with Bank of America, we are thrilled to support local programs that will focus on building up communities’ climate resilience through strategic tree planting and community engagement and education.”

Tree canopies have been linked to many benefits, such as cooler cities, improved air and water quality, effective stormwater control, and better health outcomes, and urban trees also increase property values and reduce energy costs for homes, the Arbor Day Foundation said.

In 2019, Bank of America provided the first $250,000 grant for this program, which helped support tree-planting activities in Tucson, Arizona; Kansas City, Missouri; Providence, Rhode Island; and Norfolk, Virginia. Its second grant in 2020 supported St. Louis, Missouri; Durham, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; and Cleveland.

“Trees are a cost-effective tool with multiple benefits, including carbon capture, reducing urban heat island effects, protecting against stormwater runoff and helping clean the air,” said Rich Brown, environmental program director, Bank of America. “It is critical that we bring the natural infrastructure of trees to socioeconomically disadvantaged communities that are adversely impacted by the effects of a changing climate. Arbor Day’s program is an important step toward more sustainable and climate-resilient cities.”

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