GLRI grants will use trees to heal the Great Lakes

Trees will play an important role in restoring the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently awarded $3.7 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants to seven Great Lakes states. The grants will expand urban forests, use trees to remove toxic waste from soils and replace trees damaged by the Emerald ash borer, an invasive insect species.

Trees are a type of green infrastructure. They reduce stormwater runoff, one of the main sources of Great Lakes pollution, by capturing rain and snow that would otherwise fall on the ground and drain into the nearest waterway. Trees also absorb toxins in soil.

Urban forests protect the Great Lakes by reducing storm water runoff and absorbing toxins in soils.

The USDA projects were divided into five focus areas: Expanding urban and community forests; cleaning up toxic substances from abandoned industrial facilities; replacing trees killed by the Emerald ash borer; and managing nuisance weeds that harm trees. The grants were distributed to 22 city, county, state and non-governmental organizations across the region.

Here is the USDA’s state-by-state breakdown of the individual grants:

Wisconsin: The Department of Natural Resources received $31,627 for the Expansion of First Down for Trees Program;  the City of Milwaukee received $100,000 to assess the city’s urban forest; Memononee Valley Partners received $74,875 for stormwater treatment; Landen Consulting received $220,000 for the Turnkey Green Infrastructure project; and the Door County Soil and Water Conservation Department and Southeast Wisconsin received $24,500 and $48,871 respectively for non-native invasive plant species control.

Michigan: The Genesee Conservation District received $60,658 for restoration of Flint’s urban forest and street trees; the Downriver Community Conference received $113,700 for forest restoration at the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge Gateway; the Greening of Detroit received $473,020 for the city’s model project using trees to clean up toxins in soil and water; the Delta Institute received $203,733 for its project to use hybrid poplar tree farms to reduce toxics in the environment; the city of Grand Rapids received $210,000 for its emerald ash borer recovery project; the Calhoun Conservation District received $99,960 for forest restoration; the Alliance of Rouge Communities received $374,980 to restore trees in Rouge River’s urban watershed.

Illinois: Openlands received $50,000 in grants for habitat tree planting in Chicago parks; the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus received $500,000 for Illinois urban forest restoration projects; and the City of Chicago received $72,020 to help restore urban forests affected by the emerald ash borer.

Ohio: The Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources received $498,276 to help clean up brownfields in Toledo; and the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization received $73,040 to restore forest habitats impacted by the emerald ash borer.

Indiana: The Department of Natural Resources received $50,000 for its use of existing urban forestry tools.

New York: The Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper received $397,396 to reforest parts of Riverbend and Griffon parks; and the state Department of Environmental Conservation received $24,500 to help control non-native invasive plant species.

Pennsylvania: The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy received $48,900 to help control non-native invasive plant species.

Go here for more information on the USDA’s urban forestry programs.

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