Cuyahoga County announces $950,000 in awards to plant 3,400 trees in urban areas

Good News Notes:

Cuyahoga County has announced $950,000 in awards to fund 27 tree-planting projects this year as part of the county’s Healthy Urban Tree Canopy Grant Program.

The projects, two of which are funded by the Cleveland Tree Coalition, will result in the the addition of more than 3,400 trees, bringing the total from the grant program since 2019 to more than 7,500.

The program was identified in 2019 as part of the county’s Climate Change Action Plan. The plan was to invest $1 million in tree plantings a year for five years. This year will be the third year of such investments as 2020 was a wash because of the pandemic.

“Trees are critical for so many things — helping with local air quality and storm water runoff, providing summer shade and minimizing air conditioning costs, and generally assisting with overall mental health. That’s why the County continues to put resources into helping strengthen tree plantings in communities,” said Mike Foley, the county’s sustainability director, said in a news release announcing the 2022 awards.

The trees being as part of the program will be going to cities in the county, as well as to nonprofits participating.

The Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District will be working with the grant recipients to ensure the trees are properly planted. The projects include 30 to 40 tree species, said Jared Bartley, the district’s deputy director of education and watershed programs.

“We really try to focus on the larger canopy trees,” Bartley said, but sometimes overhead utility lines require smaller varieties.

Most of the trees being planted are native species, Bartley said. The trees will be placed along streets and in parks. One of the projects, in Strongsville, involves cost sharing with residents on whose property the trees will be planted,. Tree varieties for that project include tulip, Kentucky coffee tree, black gum, London planetree, linden, hornbeam, yellowwood, magnolia, redbud and honey locust.

The grant applications were scored using various criteria, including the county’s “equity and vulnerability goals,” according to the release.. Lakewood is getting funding for a planting project that targets a historically disadvantaged area, Bartley said.

An assessment of the county’s urban tree canopy in 2019 showed that 34.7% of land in the county, or about 100,000 acres, is tree canopy, a decline of 6,600 acres since 2011. The county has identified another 371,000 acres that are available to add tree canopy….”

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