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EGG HARBOR CITY – U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Friday that the USDA Agriculture Service has awarded more than $1 billion in grants from the Inflation Reduction Act to plant and maintain trees to combat extreme heat, climate change and to improve access to nature in cities, towns, and suburbs across the United States.
Egg Harbor City was awarded $1 million for its plan to hire a certified tree expert to provide maintenance for its aging street trees, monitor two city parks, plant trees on streets undergoing reconstruction, and develop a plan to remove invasive species from public and private lands.
“We are beyond grateful for this grant award. The funding will provide a small city like ours the ability to properly maintain, restore, enhance and preserve our trees and forests for future generations to enjoy,” Mayor Lisa Jiampetti said.
The U.S. Community Forestry Service awarded 385 grants from 842 applications requesting $6.4 billion in funding, an indication of the urgent need to plant and maintain urban trees across the nation.
“The city’s urban tree canopy is in jeopardy because our trees are nearing the end of their lifespan, many have been removed during street reconstruction projects, and felled in major storm events,” said Councilwoman Nanette LoBiondo Galloway, who also chairs SustainableEHC, the city’s green team and who advocated to apply for the grant. “This grant will provide the city with the funding needed to hire a certified tree expert to properly trim our street trees for health, safety and beauty, extending the lifespan of still-healthy trees that were planted in the rights-of-way of our avenues more than 80 years ago.”
The grant comes after the green team conducted two major tree planting projects funded by the NJ Community Forestry Service that replaced 102 trees lost in the freak derecho storm of July 2012, and a recent project that planted 67 new street trees. The grant will also fund a plan to tackle invasive tree species on public and private property, such as the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), the host tree for the dreaded spotted lanternfly. Community education and involvement is a key component of the city’s forestry management plan.
The benefits of street trees are many, Galloway said, including providing wind breaks in winter, shade for pedestrians in summer and reduced home energy costs. They also provide shelter for wildlife, reduce crime, and increase property values.
“Today’s landmark funding from the U.S. Forest Service will increase urban access to nature, improve air quality, keep city streets cool during sweltering summers, tackle the climate crisis, and create safer, healthier communities in every corner of America,” Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation John Podesta said. “That makes a big difference for the grandmother who doesn’t have air conditioning, or the kid who has asthma, or the parent who works outside for 10 hours a day.”
The announcement is part of the Biden administration’s effort to advance environmental justice and job creation.
Egg Harbor City’s allotment of funding came through the Biden administration’s Justice 40 Initiative, which reserves 40% of funding opportunities for overburdened communities.
SustainableEHC is Egg Harbor City’s green team, working to preserve the environment, adopt sustainable practices in the home and support local business, industry and farming.
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