Thirty-four years ago, our founders committed to plant and care for trees and the environment by empower people, building community and promoting stewardship. On September 14, 2023, the federal government backed that belief by awarding $1.13 billion dollars to 385 communities to plant trees over the next several years.
Trees Forever Interim CEO, Deb Powers, was front and center as the announcement was made. Powers participated in a private roundtable session with Secretary Vilsack and Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. During the private session participants went around the table explaining their involvement in tree planting and why. Every person at the table referenced their previous relationship with Trees Forever and our continued effort to reforest the Cedar Rapids urban canopy.
While Trees Forever did not directly receive any funding that day, three of our valued partners did. The Cities of Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, and West Des Moines, all received funding.
“We believe we can create more resilient communities in terms of the impacts of climate,” Vilsack told reporters in previewing his announcement. “We think we can mitigate extreme heat incidents and events in many of the cities.”
In announcing the grants in Cedar Rapids, Vilsack will spotlight the eastern Iowa city of 135,000 people that lost thousands of trees during an extreme windstorm during the summer of 2020. Cedar Rapids has made the restoration of its tree canopy a priority since that storm, called a derecho, and will receive $6 million in funding through the new grants.
“Everyone should have access to nature,” Mallory said. “Urban forests can really play a key role in ensuring both that access but also increasing the climate resilience of communities, helping reduce extreme heat and making communities more livable.”
The federal money comes from the Inflation Reduction Act.