USDA Provides Nebraska Statewide Arboretum with $10 Million to Plant Trees

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(Tom Joyce, The Center Square) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service provided the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum with a five-year, $10 million grant to improve its urban forest infrastructure.

The arboretum plans to use this grant for tree plantings, tree maintenance and removal, and workforce development.

“The primary aims of the grant are to plant and maintain trees, combat extreme heat and climate change, and increase equitable access to trees and their benefits,” a press release from Nebraska Statewide Arboretum said. “The work will align with the Justice40 initiative, which aims to bring resources to disadvantaged communities most impacted by climate change, pollution, and environmental hazards.”

The state will remove ash trees infected with emerald ash borer from public and private landscapes, plant trees to reduce heat in select communities, and provide workforce training to increase the number of certified arborists and other tree care professionals.

The grant the state received was one of 385 awards nationwide, totaling more than $1 billion. The funding comes from the Inflation Reduction Act.

The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum provides green infrastructure, technical, educational and grant assistance to rural and urban communities. It has more than 45 years of experience and is one of three entities in Nebraska receiving this funding.

Hanna Pinneo, executive director of the arboretum, said the grant will offer an economic benefit to the state.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be awarded this significant grant, which will profoundly impact the health, safety, and well-being of thousands of Nebraskans in communities across the state,” Pinneo said in the release. “This investment will not only help to create greener cities and towns, it will also expand access to green space in previously underserved communities and create more jobs in the tree care industry, which will, in turn, deliver tangible economic benefits to Nebraskans for years to come.”

Nebraska State Forester John Erixson said community forests help all Nebraska residents.

“Community forests benefit all Nebraskans by protecting our homes, cleaning air and water, and mitigating heat islands in urban settings,”  Erixson said in the release. “This level of investment will be transformative for Nebraska’s communities and all of us who live in the community forest.”

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