(The Center Square) – Spokane is about to get a green makeover, thanks to the federal government, in the form of $12 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.
The money is part of more than $1 billion in federal funds granted to various municipalities to “plant and maintain trees, combat extreme heat and climate change, and improve access to nature in cities, towns, and suburbs where more than 84% of Americans live, work, and play.”
Funds disbursed to the Spokane will come as two separate grants of $6 million.
The first is an urban forestry tree equity program meant to “increase tree canopy cover and provide urgent care for trees in disadvantaged communities in Spokane.” These funds will be used by the SpoCanopy project, “a joint venture with City of Spokane Urban Forestry and The Lands Council, and aims to assist Spokane in achieving 30% canopy cover by 2030.”
The second will be used as part of the Spokane County Conservation District’s Natural Resource Apprenticeship Program, and “will improve urban tree canopy and expand forestry career opportunities through hands-on urban and community forestry education programs” with aims to “improve climate resiliency and public health in Spokane County and create new career pathways in under-resourced communities.”
“This incredible funding will allow trees to be planted and cared for in areas of greatest need – a first tier priority in our Parks Master Plan,” said Garrett Jones, interim city administrator and former parks director, in a news release. “It also helps fulfill the City’s Sustainability Action Plan, which identified a need to increase the urban tree canopy.”
The Parks Master Plan was adopted in spring 2022 under his leadership. According to its vision statement, the plan is “a commitment to build a community legacy through green space and parks. We focus on creating prosperity with equitable park development and recreation opportunities that uplift all people.”
A full breakdown of the funding by state can be found on the Forest Service portion of the USDA website.