In a major boost to Mayor Harrell’s ongoing efforts to expand tree canopy, Seattle will receive federal funds from the USDA Forest Service for a 5-year effort to expand access to trees and forested places in the City.
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 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 ordinance which 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.
What People Are Saying:
Senator Patty Murray
“We know that more neighborhood green spaces mean happier residents and lower temperatures in the heat of the summer—especially in big cities like Seattle. The federal dollars I fought to secure in the Inflation Reduction Act are going to make a real difference for families across the city—expanding Seattle’s tree canopy and supporting local organizations that offer community tree planting, skills training programs, and more. Too many people lack easy access to green spaces, and these grants are going to help change that.”
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal
“Planting more trees in our cities is an important part of climate resilience, and I’m thrilled to see Seattle receiving millions of federal dollars to expand our urban forests and fight the climate crisis. These efforts will help decrease pollution in the neighborhoods that need it the most, like those who have been disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change. By using this funding to expand tree cover, improve air quality, and train young people in climate-focused careers, we are making Seattle a cleaner and greener city.”
Jessyn Farrell, Director, Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment
“This game-changing investment from the Biden administration will help us create a greener, healthier and more equitable city that is better prepared to stave off and stop the worst effects of climate change. Research shows that neighborhoods with more trees are associated with improved physical and mental well-being for people, reduced extreme heat conditions, and more economic opportunities. This grant will improve the lives of everyday people, like seniors and infants in homes without air conditioning, children who play at schools without trees, and workers with jobs outdoors.”
AP Diaz, Superintendent, Seattle Parks and Recreation
“Seattle’s parks and urban forests represent a large portion of our city’s landscape and plays a significant role in the overall health of our city. Yet, we know that to address the very real impacts of climate change on our communities we must work across jurisdictions and on green job pipelines to truly change the tide. We are grateful to the Biden administration for their acknowledgement of these efforts, and for enabling us to partner with community-based organizations to make bold steps forward in creating a City and a connected and thriving environment that improves the lives of current residents and for generations to come.”
Greg Spotts, Director, Seattle Department of Transportation
“I’m dedicated to growing Seattle’s tree canopy and this grant is making it possible to offer more green space. Trees improve our health and make our neighborhoods cooler, friendlier places. The Delridge Native Forest Garden will be a space to foster community by planting native plants with cultural significance to regional tribes.”
Donny Stevenson, Vice-Chairman, Muckleshoot Tribal Council
“The plant world represents to us, as our oldest traditional teacher, the lessons of patience, diversity, strength and generosity. Trees and salmon are iconic to the Pacific Northwest and it is not a coincidence that the two species depend upon each other to thrive. Trees naturally filter the water that the salmon depend on, and the salmon become nutrients for the trees. With this funding opportunity we will provide a visible and viable investment into our Natural Resources which will benefit our personal values and promote safe and healthy neighborhoods.”
Jad Daley, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Forests
“Achieving Tree Equity in Seattle will save lives and lungs while creating more equitable economic opportunity for all residents, and thanks to today’s transformational federal investment, these goals are within reach. In the wake of the tragic deaths during the 2021 Northwest Heat Dome, we applaud Mayor Harrell and the City of Seattle for advancing Tree Equity to cool and cleanse the air where needed most working through municipal programs, partnerships with frontline leaders, and leadership within the new Washington State Tree Equity Collaborative. The Emerald City is demonstrating for both the state and nation how we can deliver health equity and green jobs through a commitment to urban and community forestry.”
Chiyo Crawford, Executive Director, Environmental Coalition of South Seattle (ECOSS)
“Through our relationship with the Green Seattle Partnership, ECOSS has worked with community members of South Seattle to increase and improve the access of outdoor spaces for BIPOC communities and create accessible, relevant, and relatable event opportunities to engage in urban forest education and restoration. This funding will provide stability to our ongoing community partnerships and support the creation of new ones in South Seattle in order to establish co-powerment at the forefront of achieving equitable canopy coverage.”
Jon Hoekstra, Executive Director, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust
“Funding from this grant will provide critical stability for building trust-based community partnerships in southeast Seattle. Together we will be able to deliver solutions specially designed to meet the tree canopy needs of the community, with a focus on increasing equitable planting and maintenance of trees, green job training and education programs, and restoration projects.”