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For Years, Many Central NY Neighborhoods Have Been Concrete Jungles, With Severe Lack Of Greenery – Creating Hotter Neighborhoods Through Urban Heat Islands, Decreasing Air Quality, Worsening Public Health Outcomes, And More

Schumer Personally Called And Wrote USDA Secretary Vilsack To Advocate For Syracuse In USDA Competition To Be Among The First To Tap Historic Funding He Secured For Urban Forest Program In The Inflation Reduction Act – The Largest Investment In Fighting Climate Change Ever – And Now Thousands Of New Trees Will Soon Line Streets Across The Region Thanks To Fed $$$ Schumer Secured

Schumer: Inflation Reduction Act Is Planting The Seed For A Healthier, Cleaner, And Greener In Syracuse & CNY!

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced $10,945,000 for three projects in Syracuse, Auburn, and across Central New York to plant thousands of new trees and expand youth and job training programs helping 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 neighborhoods in Syracuse and across Central NY, and plant thousands of new trees, helping reduce extreme temperatures from ‘urban heat islands’ in places like Syracuse, while helping youth get connected to good paying jobs that improve the community and contribute to a cleaner greener environment for all.

“Central NY, put on your work gloves, get out your shovels and get ready to dig in because nearly $11 million is on the way to help plant thousands of new trees and help youth make our communities cleaner and greener for all. Investing in helping green spaces in our neighborhoods grow not only improves quality of life and air quality, it increases property values, decreases temperatures and so much more. It is how you plant the seeds for a brighter future,” said Senator Schumer. “I fought hard to plant this funding in the Inflation Reduction Act so that places like Syracuse, Auburn, and other cities across Central New York, could have access to the funding they have long needed to breathe new life into our most underserved neighborhoods. Now a greener, healthier, and more equitable Central NY can finally take root and blossom.”

“Syracuse will quickly benefit from the investments in our tree canopy made possible by this Rooting for Syracuse collaboration. With these funds, Syracuse will be better able carry out our goal to grow the canopy more equitably, enhance neighborhood health and climate resiliency, and create employment opportunities for young people,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. “I’m grateful to the community partners who contributed to our application and to the strong support from Majority Leader Schumer.”

“Neighborhoods in the city of Auburn located in environment justice areas suffered great loss due to the devastating impact of the invasive emerald ash borer. The USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Inflation Reduction Act grant will allow us to redevelop Auburn’s urban forest within our disadvantaged neighborhoods replacing over 1,200 trees on public lands that were lost,” said Mayor of Auburn Michael Quill. “On behalf of our city, we thank Senator Schumer for his leadership and tireless effort to provide these essential funds within the Inflation Reduction Act.

“On behalf of our entire organization and communities across Central New York, I would like to thank Senator Schumer for his extraordinary commitment to our region and for fighting to secure this transformational funding,” said CNY Regional Planning and Development Board Executive Director David Bottar. “Using this federal investment, our board plans to stand-up a program to re-distribute award funding to smaller communities across CNY, ensuring that this critical pot of funding is accessible to communities of all sizes and expanding the footprint of our region’s urban green space renaissance. When it’s all said and done, these funds will be used for everything from hiring community arborists to developing workforce training partnerships around urban forestry to planting 10,000 new trees. We are excited to get started, and we are lucky to have a great partner like Senator Schumer on our team.”

The funding recipients are listed below:

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Schumer personally called and wrote USDA Secretary Vilsack in support of the project and fought to deliver this support for Syracuse. Syracuse’s proposal, “Rooting for Syracuse: A community-based approach to advancing tree equity,” builds on years of planning by the city to boost youth and neighborhood-centered urban forestry and will help the city plant and care for thousands of new trees. The project will be supported by community partners SUNY ESF, the Gifford Foundation, Onondaga Earth Corps, Tree Equity Fund, Department of Neighborhood & Business Development, Department of Parks, Recreation & Youth Programs, Syracuse Land Bank, Home Headquarters, and others. The project builds on Syracuse’s 2019 urban forestry master plan released in 2019, which the City has already committed $2 million in federal funding to from the American Rescue Plan.

Specifically, the city will work with community partners to expand youth education and training, helping plant thousands of trees and helping to employing hundreds of youth and workers in good paying jobs to prepare workers for careers and college programs in urban forestry, land management, and landscaping. The city also plans for funding to support community led urban forest and neighborhood beautification projects and integrate tree planning into affordable housing initiatives through homeowner education and tree management assistance.

In Auburn, officials plan to use this funding to plant over 1,000 new trees to address the city's hot spots and increase tree canopy through partnerships with West End neighborhoods and the Auburn Enlarged City School District. Auburn also plans to use this funding to help prioritize the management of existing trees through pruning and removal of decaying trees, and promote education outreach and awareness for communities to take advantage of the city’s ongoing efforts to increase greenery and beautify neighborhoods.

The Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board (CNY RPDB) will utilize its $9 million award from the USDA to capitalize its Central New York Healthy Urban Forests initiative. Through this initiative, the CNY RPDB will manage and distribute funds in the form of sub-awards to small communities in Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, and Oswego counties. Funds will be used for planning, which includes tree inventories, urban forest master plans, and management plans, and for implementation of tree planting projects identified in these plans. Additionally, funds will be used to hire two “circuit rider” arborists who will assist communities with urban forestry planning and project implementation at no cost. The CNY RPDB will also direct funding towards workforce training programs in partnership with municipalities, local community-based organizations, educational institutions, and county soil and water conservation districts to further the capacity for communities to engage in urban forestry. Measurable outcomes of this proposal include: 10 completed urban forest master plans by the end of the contract term, at least 10,000 trees planted, and at least 25 participants engaged in workforce training programs.  

Schumer explained that thanks to the historic investments he was able to secure in the Inflation Reduction Act the USDA’s Urban and Community Forestry Program Grants, is making more than $1 billion available 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.