Wednesday, September 27, 2023
For 36 consecutive years, Fairfax City has been recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. And now, a $1 million grant recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service will help the City continue to grow and maintain its urban forest.
The grant money will fund SPROUT, Fairfax’s new and aptly named, urban forest stewardship initiative. The goal is to create healthier, more climate-resilient and equitable trees within the City. Tree equity is defined as having enough trees in an area so that everyone may experience their health, climate and economic benefits.
SPROUT stands for Stewarding, Planting, Restoring Our Urban Trees, and it was one of 400 projects selected from more than 800 applications submitted by communities across the nation. Only six projects were selected from Virginia, and Fairfax City was the sole grant recipient selected from Northern Virginia.
Among the plans for SPROUT are:
* Implementing Fairfax’s first 20-year urban forest management plan, including an integrated invasive species action plan;
* Investing in invasive vegetation-management services;
* Planting trees on public property;
* Identifying and engaging in an urban forest stewardship network; and
* Providing environmental education and awareness.
“This initiative will be a collaboration among several city departments, George Mason University and the community,” said Anna Safford, City of Fairfax urban forester. “SPROUT will connect neighbors to their urban forest and support them in planting and caring for their trees.”
The USDA Forest Service awarded more than $1 billion in competitive grants to plant and maintain trees, combat extreme heat and climate change, and improve access to nature in cities, towns and suburbs. This is the largest USDA investment to date in urban and community forests.
According to the USDA, “Trees make a difference. Studies show that 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.”