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News Release

For Immediate Release: September 20, 2023

City of Durham and Keep Durham Beautiful Awarded Multimillion Federal Grant to Plant Trees in Disadvantaged Areas

$5.3 Million Award to Increase Number of Trees on Public Properties and Fund Forest Management Plan Update

DURHAM, N.C. – In the near future, 4,000 new trees will line the streets of Durham thanks to a multimillion federal grant award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The City of Durham and Keep Durham Beautiful were selected to receive a $5.3 million Urban and Community Forestry Grant. The grant money will be used to plant trees in to-be-determined disadvantaged areas across the city as identified by the City using the federal government’s Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. These areas are also targets of the federal government’s Justice40 Initiative.

What You Need to Know

  • The implementation period for the grant is 2024 to 2029.
  • Urban Forestry staff are responsible for tree planting and care in public rights of way and City-owned property.
  • Civic groups will benefit from opportunities to plant trees as volunteers with Keep Durham Beautiful.
  • Equitable and resilient tree canopies reduce heat island effects, improve water quality, and promote health.

Over the next five years, City staff and Keep Durham Beautiful will use the USDA grant to revise the City’s 2018 Urban Forest Management Plan, and plant 4,000 trees in target areas, including numerous planting sites identified in East Durham. Additionally, City staff plan to survey 215 acres of critical wildlife habitat proposed for creation of the Ellerbe Creek Rookery Dedicated Nature Preserve.

“This announcement is timely as recent extreme weather events caused significant damage and destruction to urban trees across the city,” said Keep Durham Beautiful Executive Director Tania Dautlick. “USDA cites studies that show communities with access to trees and green spaces are associated with improved health outcomes, reduced crime, lower average temperatures, and an influx of other kinds of investments and new economic opportunities.”

“The City’s Urban Forestry Division and Keep Durham Beautiful will continue to leverage investments such as this to equitably build Durham’s capacity to expand and protect vital tree canopy throughout the city,” said General Services Director Jina Propst.

Future updates on Durham’s USDA grant award and tree planting locations will be posted to the Urban Forestry Division’s webpage.

While the USDA announced the grant award, the Durham City Council must formally accept it before City staff can implement the proposed initiatives.

About the City of Durham General Services Department Urban Forestry Division

The mission of the Urban Forestry Division is to enhance the quality of life for the Durham community by providing professional quality tree care on City property and in City rights-of-way. This division is dedicated to the pruning, planting, removal, and protection of trees using the latest arboriculture techniques and safety standards.

A comprehensive list of the City’s goals and strategies for tree care can be found in the City of Durham Urban Forest Management Plan.

Keep Durham Beautiful

Keep Durham Beautiful (KBD) is a nonprofit, volunteer organization working in partnership with the City of Durham General Services Department and Durham County. KDB leverages the power of volunteerism through tree planting projects, native habitat preservation, litter removal campaigns such as Adopt-a-Street, Big Sweep and Creek Week, and place-based beautification activities. KDB empowers residents to become environmental stewards, cultivating a greater sense of community belonging. To learn more follow on FacebookInstagramFlickr, and X, formerly known as Twitter.

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