Governor Hochul Announces $1 Million Now Available Through New Community Forest Conservation Grant Program
Funding Helps Municipalities Establish Community Forests
New York (STL.News) Governor Kathy Hochul announced that $1 million in grant funds is now available to municipalities through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s new Community Forest Conservation Grant Program. The grant program will support community efforts to conserve local forests and create new opportunities for public access, help protect natural areas from development, and encourage sustainable management of forested lands. Municipalities may apply for funding to purchase properties directly or through conservation easements to establish community forests.
“Forests are crucial to the future of our planet and one of our greatest natural treasures that we must preserve and protect,” Governor Hochul said. “Not only will this program create new opportunities for recreation, but it will conserve forested land and foster tree growth across the state, advancing New York’s efforts to reduce climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.”
Grants ranging from $50,000 up to $300,000 are available to help reimburse local governments for the protection of community forests, including funds to acquire, appraise, and survey land, as well as title searches, tax services, recording fees, and attorney fees. Recipients must provide a 10 percent cash match of the grant amount requested. Properties to be acquired must be 10 or more contiguous acres in size, have forests on at least 75 percent of the acreage, be accessible to the public, and provide public benefits such as recreation opportunities, flood mitigation, wildlife habitat, clean water, and forest products. Grant funds will be managed and allocated by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Healthy forests provide New York’s communities and environment with a wide range of benefits, including wildlife habitat, flood mitigation, recreational opportunities, wood products, mental health, air quality, water quality, carbon storage, and carbon sequestration. Today’s announcement will bolster local efforts to conserve community forests across the state, providing residents with opportunities to connect with forests and foster a sense of stewardship, while also introducing new opportunities for municipalities to engage community residents in sustainable forest management.”
Additional information about the Community Forest Conservation Grant Program is available on the DEC website. Applications must be submitted through the New York State Grants Gateway, paper applications will not be accepted. The deadline for applications is 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13.
New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), created in 1993, supports the Community Forest Conservation Grant Program. In her 2022-23 Executive Budget, Governor Hochul proposed increasing the EPF from $300 to $400 million, which would be the highest-level of funding in the program’s history. The EPF provides funding for critical environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, enhanced recreational access, water quality improvement, and an aggressive environmental justice agenda.