The city of Jamestown has received $25,000 to better manage its urban forestry program.
On Friday, in honor of Arbor Day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced urban forestry grants totaling $797,437 to communities and organizations across the state. This year, Urban and Community Forestry grants were awarded to 34 cities, towns, villages and nonprofit organizations across the state. The grants, which are funded from the state's Environmental Protection Fund, support a variety of projects such as community tree planting and tree inventories and management plans, as well as green infrastructure projects to assist in storm water management.
In the city of Jamestown, Dan Stone, city arborist, said most of the $25,000 non-matching grant will be used to upgrade software and hardware used to manage the urban forestry program. He said the city's Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department has been using an in-house-created program to keep track of trees in the city.
"We are hoping now with the new money it will bring us up to the modern age with GPS locating," Stone said. "It will give us a better overall picture of what we have in the urban forest."
One piece of new software city officials will be able to use is called i-Tree. I-Tree is a state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed software suite from the USDA Forest Service that provides urban forestry analysis and benefits assessment tools. The i-Tree tools help communities of all sizes to strengthen their urban forest management and advocacy efforts by quantifying the structure of community trees and the environmental services that trees provide. By understanding the local, tangible ecosystem services that trees provide, i-Tree users can link urban forest management activities with environmental quality and community livability.
"It will help us know what trees are better suited for our environment," Stone said. "It will help us track and locate what trees we have in what areas. It will help in case we come up with an insect or disease problem."
The money will also be used to possibly hire someone to help take tree measurements and to purchase other field tools for the department. The $25,000 was the most a community the size of Jamestown could receive. The grant is not something the city receives each year.
"It is huge. This is the first time I had written a grant," Stone said. "(Friday) is Arbor Day and I was planting a tree at (Jamestown Community College) when I received the phone call. So I was pretty pumped. It will make my job a little easier and help the community."
Arbor Day is a nationally celebrated observance that promotes tree planting and tree care, and also highlights the importance of trees to the environment, the economy and the quality of life. Founded by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska in 1872, National Arbor Day is celebrated each year on the last Friday in April. It was established to encourage farmers and homesteaders to plant trees that would provide shade, shelter, food, fuel and beauty to open areas.
Jamestown has been part of The Arbor Day Foundation's Tree City USA program for 33 years. The Tree City USA program is a national program that provides the framework for community forestry management for cities and towns across America. Communities achieve Tree City USA status by meeting four core standards of sound urban forestry management: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.