TRENTON, NJ - The Department of Environmental Protection is awarding nearly $400,000 in grants to 20 municipalities and two counties to promote the stewardship of urban and community trees and forests.

"Trees and forests are important to us on so many levels, providing habitat for wildlife, cleaning the air we breathe, providing shade, contributing to a healthier environment and improving the quality of life in our towns and cities," said DEP Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources Ray Bukowski. "It is a priority of the New Jersey Forest Service to not only plant trees in our communities and urban areas, but to ensure their long-term survival through proper planning and management." 

Since 2000, the New Jersey Forest Service's Urban and Community Forestry Program began awarding Stewardship Grants to provide financial assistance to counties and municipalities statewide to help them implement their local Community Forestry Management Plans. 

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The "Treasure Our Trees" state license plate sales and the No Net Loss Compensatory Reforestation program funded the 2018 grants. 

The grants are used for work on a wide range of projects, such as community tree inventories, tree planting and reforestation. 

They may also be used by local governments to manage impacts from the emerald ash borer, an invasive tree-killing beetle that is causing widespread losses of ash trees across the nation. Since its first detection in New Jersey in 2014, the ash borer has been found in 71 municipalities in 13 counties.

With grant funding, communities can conduct inventories to identify ash trees, develop emerald ash borer mitigation plans and replace ash trees that are removed with another tree species. 



"The emerald ash borer remains the most significant threat to the health, safety and sustainability of our urban and community forests," said State Forester John Sacco. "It is important that each community and property owner act now to address this continuing threat. Proper management is essential because infested trees can eventually become a public safety concern."

With proper care, trees in community and urban settings can be healthy and live long lives. The New Jersey Urban and Community Forestry program provides the financial and technical assistance communities need to properly manage and care for urban and community trees and forests.

"A comprehensive local urban and community forestry program provides environmental, social, and economic benefits," said Carrie Sargeant, coordinator of the state's Urban and Community Forestry program. "Communities that are accredited with the New Jersey Urban and Community Forestry Program have a Community Forestry Management Plan, participate in required training and education programs, and report back to the program on their accomplishments every year." 

Resiliency planning grants totaling $75,000 have been awarded to the following six municipalities and two counties: Galloway Township, Atlantic County ($10,000); Holland Township, Hunterdon County ($10,000); Hunterdon County ($10,000); Passaic County ($10,000); Point Pleasant Beach, Ocean County ($8,000); Rumson, Monmouth County ($10,000); Springfield Township, Union County ($10,000); and Verona, Essex County ($7,000).

Reforestation and tree-planting grants totaling $309,264 have been awarded to: Dunellen, Middlesex County ($30,000); Fanwood, Union County ($9,600); Franklin Lakes, Bergen County ($25,823); Haddonfield, Camden County ($27,121); Hammonton, Atlantic County ($17,220); Highland Park, Middlesex County ($30,000); Hoboken, Hudson County ($30,000); Moorestown, Burlington County ($17,500); Mount Holly, Burlington County ($30,000); New Milford, Bergen County ($15,000); Parsippany-Troy Hills, Morris County ($30,000); Passaic City, Passaic County ($7,000); Pennington Borough, Mercer County ($10,000); and Red Bank, Monmouth County ($30,000).

At the beginning of this year, 219 municipalities and counties across New Jersey had New Jersey Forest Service-approved Community Forestry Management Plans, and 145 of those communities were fully accredited with the New Jersey Urban and Community Forestry Program. These communities are providing benefits for residents today and for generations to come.

For more information, please visit the New Jersey Urban and Community Forestry Program at www.communityforestry.nj.gov  and like NJDEP Urban & Community Forestry on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Njurbanandcommunityforestry/ 

For more information on how to purchase the Treasure Our Trees commercial or passenger vehicle license plate, which funds the New Jersey Urban and Community Forestry grants, visit  www.nj.gov/mvc/vehicles/treasure.htm  

For more information on New Jersey Urban and Community Forestry Stewardship grants and other New Jersey Urban and Community Forestry grant programs, visit www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/forest/community/grants.html 

Visit the New Jersey Emerald Ash Borer Task Force website, www.emeraldashborer.nj.gov , to learn how communities and property owners can address the threat this insect poses to our ash trees.