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NeighborWoods Project Receives Grant Funds

July 9, 2015

Sacramento is lovingly called “The City of Trees” by its residents. With park-like neighborhoods averaging 23% canopy cover, it’s no wonder why this name sticks. However, growing bodies of research indicate there is an inverse relationship between the income level of a community and its percentage of tree canopy. Nowhere is this connection more apparent than in the communities of South Sacramento where neighborhoods average a meager 5 – 10% tree canopy cover. The lack of an adequate urban forest puts South Sacramento at an environmental disadvantage as residents suffer disproportionately higher rates of chronic diseases like obesity and asthma, as well as higher crime rates and lower property values. Additionally, these neighborhoods have little access to healthy foods resulting in a higher percentage of diet-related disease and early mortality for residents. Something must be done to correct this imbalance and today, an unprecedented opportunity exists for our region’s urban forest.

Beginning this year, the State of California has allocated $18 million dollars for multiple competitive grant programs tied to urban forestry and these funds are projected to increase to $37.8 million in 2016. CAL FIRE recently announced the official recipients of these grant funds and, of the more than 25 grant proposals receiving funding, Sacramento Tree Foundation has been awarded two.

One of these grants will create a partnership between the Sacramento Tree Foundation, Soil Born Farms, and the Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps with the goal of expanding and maintaining a healthy urban forest through the innovative, community-led NeighborWoods program. NeighborWoods capitalizes on the belief that wonderful neighborhoods do not happen by chance. Trees become a tool to mobilize and empower neighborhoods, encouraging communication, imagination, planning, and care by individuals within the community.

Between now and the end of 2019, this project aims to plant approximately 3,000 new trees on public and private land within the 95823, 95824, 95828 zip codes to optimize the many benefits of a large, diverse, and healthy tree canopy. Sacramento Tree Foundation will contribute its vast urban forest expertise and a deep commitment to transforming communities and improving the environment by growing trees through informed citizen action. Soil Born Farms will provide community engagement, volunteer coordination, and expert knowledge of fruit tree planting and care to diversify the urban forest and promote better community health. The Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps will manage teams of local youth and young adults, ages 18 – 25, who will be trained to support public outreach, citizen engagement efforts, and will ensure the survival of the trees through regular, scheduled maintenance and monitoring.

This is an exciting time for our region’s urban forest. These dynamic partnerships will begin to address the disparity in tree canopy cover in Sacramento and create healthier environments for underserved communities in “The City of Trees.”