LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced it is taking applications for the 2014 Community Forestry Grants program. This year up to $100,000 is available for projects statewide.
Depending on the project, applicants may request grants of up to $20,000. All grants require a one-to-one match of funds, which can be made with cash contributions or in-kind services, but can’t include federal funds. Grant applications must be received no later than Sept. 12.
"We try to offer something every year," said Program Coordinator Kevin Sayers. "It’s federally funded. When we have enough money in the pot, then we have a competitive grant."
If there isn’t enough money in a given year to have a competitive grant, then the DNR uses whatever is available to be distributed to the community in some other way. Organizations usually end up using money they receive to buy and plant trees, Sayers said; however, grant money can be used for a number of different projects.
He noted grant money that is awarded is not provided upfront.
"There’s a lot of nonprofits out there that are doing this," he added. "There’s a lot of interest right now in urban farming, and we can support that to some extent. Our main vision for the program is to establish, expand or enhance trees in a community or urban area. Agriculture is kind of a gray area."
Urban agriculture and community forestry could be said to intersect in that both might be thought of as efforts at landscape beautification. Establishment of an orchard could be considered community forestry, Sayers said, because fruit trees are still trees. Establishment of woodlands for possible commercial use, as in Hantz Woodlands for example, is still another gray area.
Local governments, nonprofits, schools and tribal governments are eligible and encouraged to apply for the grants. Acceptable projects include street and park tree management and planning activities, urban forestry and arboriculture-related training and education events, tree plantings and Arbor Day celebrations and materials.
All projects awarded funding must be completed by Sept. 1, 2015. All projects must be performed on public land or land that is open to the public.
For more details on the community forestry program, or for an application, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/ucf or contact Sayers at 517-284-5898 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Or, write to the DNR Forest Resources Division at P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, MI 48909-7952.