SCHUMER DELIVERS OVER $2.3 MILLION FOR UTICA THROUGH INFLATION REDUCTION ACT TO TRANSFORM CITY WITH THOUSANDS OF NEW TREES, INCREASING GREEN SPACE AND PLANTING THE SEED FOR A BRIGHTER CLEANER FUTURE FOR UTICA’S NEIGHBORHOODS
For Years, Many Utica Neighborhoods Have Suffered From Declining Tree Canopy – Which Can Contribute To Health Disparities, Create Urban Heat Islands, Lower Property Values, And More
Schumer Personally Called And Wrote USDA Secretary Vilsack To Advocate For Utica 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 Utica’s Streets And Parks Thanks To Fed $$$ Schumer Secured
Schumer: Inflation Reduction Act Is Planting The Seed For A Healthier, Cleaner, And Greener Utica!
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced over $2.3 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Grants Program for Utica to fund a major transformation of the city’s urban forests and green spaces. 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. The senator personally wrote to and called USDA Secretary Vilsack to advocate for Utica to be among the first to be able to tap the funding. Schumer said that with this funding Utica hopes to be able to plant thousands of new trees across the city to help breathe new life into its urban forests and address long standing disparities in tree canopy cover.
“Utica get out your gardening gloves and dust off your shovels because over $2.3 million in federal funding is on the way to plant thousands of new trees across the city and seed a brighter future for the community. For too long Utica residents have been left out of the shade, with parks and neighborhoods that lacked the lush trees that families love. But with this over $2.3 million investment now heading to Utica, we can grow a greener environment and healthier future for families across Utica,” said Senator Schumer. “The famous children’s book says a tree is nice, but I say thousands of more trees for Utica is very very nice! I fought hard to plant this funding in the Inflation Reduction Act so that places like Utica, and cities across Upstate New York, could have access to the funding they have long needed to breathe new life into our neighborhoods. Now, a greener, healthier, and more equitable Utica can finally take root, and we can all watch it blossom together.”
“The City of Utica’s Utica Urban Forest Revitalization project was designed to address the severe inequities and disproportionate tree canopy loss within deeply disadvantaged neighborhoods of the City of Utica, including Cornhill. The program brings together some of our finest local organizations and leaders to create a healthier and greener future for our residents, engage members of our community, and support rehabilitation our city’s green spaces,” said Mayor of Utica Robert Palmieri. “On behalf of the entire City, I would like to thank Senator Schumer for rolling up his sleeves and putting in the work to make this happen for Utica.”
“Since 2022, Olmsted City has invested $270,000 in private donations and 1600 volunteer hours restoring the City of Utica's Olmsted-designed F.T. Proctor Park. Over this time, we have planted 2300 perennials and restored historic hardscaping, notably Olmsted’s beloved ‘Lily Pond.’ F.T. Proctor Park was created in 1912-14 as an oasis for Utica’s disadvantaged, and it continues to benefit the underserved in this richly diverse community,” said President of Olmsted City of Greater Utica Dr. Phillip Bean. “We could not be more delighted by the news, and we would like to thank Senator Schumer for making this possible.”
“MVCC is excited to be part of such an exciting initiative for the City of Utica. Working alongside the city and its partners to transform our community’s green spaces is a great example of how MVCC’s talented faculty lend their expertise to create applied learning opportunities for our students to help create positive change in our community,” said President of Mohawk Valley Community College Randy VanWagoner. “We sincerely appreciate the hard work done by Senator Schumer and our local leaders to realize a greener and healthier future for us all.”
Schumer both wrote to and personally called USDA Secretary Vilsack in support of Utica’s project and fought tooth and nail to deliver this critical support for Utica, which will now breathe new life into the region. Schumer said that with this major investment, the City of Utica plans to launch a transformative urban forest renewal project that assesses existing tree conditions, develops aggressive forest remediation and renewal plans, plants thousands of new trees, repurposes removed trees, and engages students and community members, including recent immigrants and refugees, in education, volunteerism, and paid work experiences planting and maintaining neighborhood trees. The project will be supported by community partners, including Mohawk Valley Community College, GreenUtica, Mohawk Valley Economic Development District, Utica City School District, Utica Rotary, refugee agency The Center, Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority, the local Oneida County Cornell Cooperative Extension, and others.
In partnership with the City of Utica, Olmsted City of Greater Utica, a local non-profit which helps preserve the value Utica’s historic Olmsted parks, will also receive investment. Olmsted City will use this funding to continue the phased restoration of F.T. Proctor Park, which has been a centerpiece of the disadvantaged East Utica neighborhood for over a century. Building on efforts to improve park quality and expand park access funding will help plant new lush trees, upkeep maintenance, control invasive species, conserve water, and revitalize the park.
A breakdown of the funding can be found below:
Schumer explained that thanks to the historic investments he was able to secure in the Inflation Reduction Act, USDA’s Urban and Community Forestry Grants Program 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.