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For Years, Many Hudson Valley Communities From Yonkers To Mount Vernon Have Suffered From A Lack Of Trees – Creating Hotter Neighborhoods With Urban Heat Islands, Decreasing Air Quality, Worsening Public Health Outcomes, Lowering Property Values, And More

Schumer Personally Added Historic Funding to the Urban Forest Programs In The Inflation Reduction Act – The Largest Investment In Fighting Climate Change Ever – And Now Hudson Valley Communities Are Among The First In The Nation To Tap Funding To Plant Thousands Of New Trees And Expand Good Paying Jobs For Youth Revitalizing Their Communities With Greenspace

Schumer: Inflation Reduction Act Is Planting The Seed For A Healthier, Cleaner, And Greener Hudson Valley!

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced $11,459,838 for eight projects across the Hudson Valley to plant thousands of new trees and expand youth education and job training programs to help make the community greener through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry program. Schumer said this funding was made possible thanks to the historic increases he secured in the Inflation Reduction Act, which included over $1 billion for the USDA program to help increase equitable access to trees. Schumer said the funding will help breathe new life into communities across the Hudson Valley, helping to directly address disparities like urban heat islands that have plagued Hudson Valley communities, as well as getting youth connected to good paying jobs that promote community improvement and climate resilience, making a cleaner greener environment for all.

“From Yonkers and Mount Vernon, to Kingston and Port Jervis, it is time for the Hudson Valley to put on your work gloves, dust off your shovels and get ready to dig in because over $11 million is on the way to plant thousands of new trees and give our youth good paying jobs to make our communities cleaner and greener for all. Investing in helping green spaces grow not only improves quality of life, it helps tack systemic inequalities like urban heat islands, create cleaner air and so much more. Growing our green spaces is how you plant the seeds for a brighter future for communities that need it most in the Hudson Valley,” said Senator Schumer. “I fought hard to plant this funding in the Inflation Reduction Act so that places like White Plains, Yonkers, Kingston, and other communities across the Hudson Valley could have access to the funding they have long needed to breathe new life into our neighborhoods. Now a greener, healthier, and more equitable Hudson Valley can finally take root and blossom.”

"This is a watershed moment for both Groundwork Hudson Valley and the youth of Yonkers. With this generous funding, we will be able to expand our Youth Leadership program to include young people up to 24 years old and build pathways to opportunities that don't just lead to a green job, but a career in environmental sustainability.  This is a huge win for Yonkers and the Hudson Valley and we thank Senator Schumer for his leadership and attention to this important work and we look forward to working together with the other recipients to build a more climate resilient future for all of us,” said Wendy Zimmermann, Groundwork Hudson Valley Board Chair.

A breakdown of the funding awarded in the Hudson Valley can be found below:

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Schumer explained that thanks to the historic investments he was able to secure in the Inflation Reduction Act, USDA’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is awarding more than $1 billion to increase equitable access to trees and the benefits they provide in disadvantaged urban communities. The Inflation Reduction Act provides $1.5 billion for urban and community forestry investments that 1) increase access in disadvantaged urban communities to trees and the associated benefits they provide to human health, the environment, and the economy, 2) broaden community engagement in local urban forest planning, tree planting, and management activities; and 3) improve community and urban forest resilience to climate change, extreme heat, forest pests and diseases, and storm events through best management and maintenance practices.

Schumer said that these projects will have a transformative impact on communities across the Hudson Valley. In Yonkers, the Groundwork Hudson Valley project will use their over $5 million in federal funding to create a new program for high school students in Southwest Yonkers at the Barack Obama School for Social Justice to get paid training experience through a new Urban Forestry & Climate Resilience Technical Career Pathway. The pathway will help give students real world experience and training for new skills in urban forestry, and eventually connect them with the professional workforce development program in urban forestry at Westchester Community College. The program includes the development of a high-school to college model urban forestry curriculum, extensive paid vocational training experiences for youth from Southwest Yonkers in the community, the placement of graduates in internships and full-time positions, and the planting and stewardship of hundreds of trees across the Southwest Yonkers community. The City of Yonkers will also receive funding separately to help plant hundreds of new trees across the community which will help directly tackle the city’s longstanding issues with urban heat islands.

This builds on work Senator Schumer has done in recent years to help increase greenspace in Yonkers, including helping to fund the first ever Yonkers Greenway. Earlier this year after standing in Yonkers to launch his efforts to deliver funding for Yonkers Greenway, Schumer revealed last month he secured up to $3.5 million in the recently marked up FY 2024 Senate and House appropriations bills, helping bring the complete project closer to reality.

In addition, White Plains will be able to use the federal funding to plant hundreds of new trees and potentially double its annual tree planting numbers. The strategic initiative will not only build the capacity of municipal forestry professionals, but also nurture a new cadre of urban arborists and activate community tree stewardship with good paying jobs. In Kingston, funding will allow them to finally establish and fill an Urban Forester position in the community to increase greenery and environmental sustainability in the city. Similarly, Mount Vernon will establish an Urban Forestry Program conducting a city-wide tree inventory and mapping, development of an urban forest management plan to help plant hundreds of new trees in disadvantaged communities across the city. In other communities like the Village of Haverstraw, federal investment will help with long desired community projects like the redevelopment of the former Empire State Chair Factory site with new lush trees and greenery like bioretention gardens to naturally prepare for stormwater management. Along with grasses and flowering perennials, rain gardens to help beautify this former vacant site.