San José will have $6.6 million to preserve its trees, the new grant will give an unprecedented boost to the San José community forest, funds that will help preserve, improve and grow the tree canopy along public streets and in a couple of emblematic parks.
And it is that, the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USDA) recently announced the award as part of a more than $1 billion program to support equitable urban and community forestry projects across the country.
“Every week, volunteers from across the city come together to make San Jose a cleaner, safer city for everyone, but we can't do it alone,” said San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan. “We thank the USDA Forest Service for joining the effort by funding projects that will make our most vulnerable neighborhoods greener and more prepared for the future.”
The grant will be used to catalog, prune, plant and care for trees along streets and parks located in neighborhoods identified as ?disadvantaged? by the federal government.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) will begin by inventorying existing street trees in select neighborhoods, allowing for an up-to-date count, as well as documenting the location, size and health of existing trees.
The inventory will help the City monitor tree canopy and better understand how to efficiently manage trees throughout the city.
The Department will also trim street trees, at no cost to adjacent property owners, and work with community organizations like the San Jose Conservation Corps to plant new trees where they are missing. The work will serve as on-the-job training for community organizations with employees interested in careers in arboriculture and urban forestry.
For its part, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services (PRNS) will make Alum Rock Park and Overfelt Gardens Park safer and more resilient through vegetation management and community participation to reduce the risk of wildfires.
Projects include pruning trees, removing dead and invasive trees, and planting hardy native trees. These efforts will be accomplished through volunteer opportunities, interpretive programming by park rangers, and on-the-job training through the city's Resilience Corps program.
?Protecting the urban forest is a priority for the City and our community. “This grant will help us meet the goals included in the Community Forest Management Plan adopted by the City Council in 2022,” said City Manager Jennifer Maguire.
The plan included the alarming finding that San Jose had lost nearly three square miles of canopy cover in just six years.
“The losses our urban forest has suffered are alarming but reversible, and this funding will help us take a big step in the right direction,” said Transportation Director John Ristow. “Together with our community partners, we will begin greening our streets, starting in the historically underserved communities that need it most.”
For Jon Cicirelli, director of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services, parks are essential, because they not only connect people with nature, but also improve air quality, control stormwater runoff and offset the effects of change climate.
You may be interested in: Bay Area cities will get more than $42 million to combat climate change