Seattle awarded $12.9 million to plant trees,create jobs, advance climate justice, and restore forested places near schools, parks and low-income housing
Information from the City of Seattle
Recognizing the City’s leadership on advancing tree equity and a healthy canopy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service recently awarded $12.9 million to the City of Seattle to plant and maintain trees where people live, learn, and play to combat extreme heat and climate change, improve access to nature, and support green careers for young people. Seattle’s two funded projects, covered by the Justice40 Initiative, were made possible by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act – the largest climate investment in history.
“This transformative grant will help support and grow Seattle’s vital tree canopy, a priority for this administration as we plant the next generation of our urban forest that is so critical to our efforts to address the climate crisis and build healthy communities,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “This investment will make meaningful improvements in tree-planting efforts in historically underserved communities, improving equity in canopy distribution so that every neighbor has access to green spaces while also fostering exciting green economy employment opportunities for youth. We know that growing canopy cover takes time, but our urgency and action today reflect a healthier, greener Emerald City tomorrow. I want to thank our Congressional delegation for their support in securing this investment and look forward to their continued partnership to build a climate-forward future for our city and state."
"We need to grow and diversify our urban canopy now to keep up with our rapidly changing climate. This funding helps us with our forward thinking to invest in climate resilient tree species as the tree canopy we have today may not survive in tomorrow’s climate,” said Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6, Northwest Seattle). “Thanks to the USDA Forest Service and President Biden, we will be able to boost dollars the city has already invested to grow the canopy in historically marginalized neighborhoods."
Earlier this year, Seattle released the 2021 Canopy Cover Assessment which found that neighborhoods that experience racial and economic inequities have 27% less canopy than more advantaged neighborhoods. This award is an opportunity to address canopy inequities by focusing planting and tree care in these neighborhoods. By funding projects aimed at engaging community in areas where trees get planted, improving the tree canopy in neighborhoods that suffer most from extreme heat, poor air quality, and health disparities, and expanding access to nature near schools and housing, cities like Seattle can deliver tangible economic and ecological advantages to overburdened communities.
Seattle’s winning projects include:
- $12,000,000 for Community-driven urban forestry and job training will leverage longstanding partnerships with organizations like Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and the Environmental Coalition of South Seattle (ECOSS) to improve the health of Seattle's urban forest and people by funding community planning, tree planting and stewardship across priority neighborhoods, training youth with green economy skills and connecting them with employment, and restoring forested spaces in parks, near public housing, and around public schools.
- $900,000 for the Delridge Native Forest Garden will enhance approximately four acres of City-owned parcels and unimproved rights-of-way in the Longfellow Creek basin in West Seattle. The project will remove invasive species and plant native conifers and understory plants with cultural significance to regional Tribes. The project will include a footpath, and planting will be coordinated with local communities to provide educational and volunteer opportunities.
This funding will be directed to the Office of Sustainability and Environment, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and the Seattle Department of Transportation, and utilized by taking a coordinated One Seattle approach. Together, City departments will improve tree planting and maintenance, work to increase equitable access to nature, improving air quality, and promoting food security, public health, and safety.
This investment builds on the significant work the City is leading to plant trees, grow canopy, and improve equity through the new tree protection ordinancewhich went into effect July 30. Under the new ordinance, the City added protections for over 157,000 trees and will address inequities in canopy coverage by planting new trees in historically underserved neighborhoods.
Read more about the $1 billion investment USDA made in 400 projects around the country to expand access to green spaces here.