In a vast show of support for reforestation to improve water quality and watershed health, the US Forest Service has awarded $1.75 million to fund projects across 5 states which will mitigate Emerald Ash Borer damage and restore urban forest cover among other goals. Forest Service Northeastern Area Service Director, Tony Ferguson agrees that there is no better way to protect clean water than conserving tree cover, “We’re supporting plantings in communities and cities, and reclaiming barren industrial lands.”
The grants awarded are a part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a collaborative, cooperative effort among federal, state, tribal and local partners. The funding supports local efforts to manage storm water and improve surface water quality by evaluating and developing improvements for the collection, storage, infiltration, and evaporation of rainfall and storm water. Awardees are located in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York and Ohio. Some examples of projects being funded through this initiative are:
- Restoring trees in Chicago’s residential parkways, city parks, community gardens, and school grounds,
- Planting trees in underserved communities impacted by EAB in the Lake Michigan watershed,
- Restoring habitat to benefit water quality and wildlife in Indiana Dunes State Park,
- Implementing a program to reduce storm water runoff and improve water quality in areas affected by EAB, awarded by competitive small grants to Indiana communities in need,
- Tree planting in Wayne County, MI to restore ecosystem function previously provided by ash trees impacted by EAB,
- The City of St. Clair Shores, MI will plant up to 500 trees of diverse species to improve water quality and habitat along the St. Clair River which is part of the Detroit River area of concern,
- The Delta Institute plans to plant hybrid poplar species on brownfield sites within the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern in Muskegon, Michigan to reduce heavy metal runoff, volatile organic compound contamination, reduce runoff and aid in restoring vacant industrial sites to productive use,
- The West Michigan Environmental Action Council in Grand Rapids plans to develop an online calculator and mobile application to assist communities with an ecosystem quantification service benefits provided by storm water green infrastructure including tree canopy, forested riparian buffers, bio-swales, bio-infiltration basins, green roofs, porous pavement and rain barrels,
- Officials in Oswego County, NY will identify and evaluate brownfield sites which contribute runoff to Lake Ontario; they will plant native plants and shrubs which should mitigate runoff for about 80 acres of land,
- The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will administer a competitive grants program for canopy restoration following ash tree removal in northeast Ohio Lake Erie watershed communities; work will mainly focus on the Cuyahoga River area of concern . They plan to plant up to 1,000 trees to address stormwater management and forest health at the watershed level,
- The city of Lorain, OH will plant up to 4,000 willow trees along the banks of the Black River in industrial areas; this will mitigate storm water, reduce erosion, decrease turbidity, stabilize substrates and improve aquatic habitat,
- The Blanchard River Watershed Partnership plans to plant over 900 trees in the towns of Findlay and Ottawa, OH to improve water quality and reduce nutrient loading,
- Cleveland Metroparks will plant trees in the Rocky River floodplain to restore contiguous urban canopy cover, reduce erosion and runoff and preserve water quality and habitat of the river.
These are just some of the examples of the diverse project work being funded through this grant initiative and supported by the US Forest Service and Environmental Protection Agency. For more information on these and other programs being implemented through federal grand programs visit http://www.na.fs.fed.us/ and http://www.epa.gov.