City applies for $20K urban forest grant

Alex Doty • Sep 25, 2017 at 8:00 AM

City leaders hope to be able to take advantage of a $20,000 Department of Natural Resources grant to help them better manage the city’s urban forest.

City Council recently approved a request to submit an application for a 2017-18 DNR Urban Forestry Program grant for up to $20,000, with a $20,000 match from the city. According to the city’s grant application, the total budget for the project is $40,000.

"I'm very excited we'll be able to cut costs in half and bring (City Council) a proposal to award to somebody this fall,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said.

The grant would help the city with projects that address forestry concerns such as forest management and planning activities, public tree planting initiatives, urban forestry and arborist training, education events and materials, and Arbor Day celebrations and materials.

The application is in line with one of City Council's goals for fiscal year 2017-18 — addressing the city’s urban forest. In April, the city released a request for proposals to hire a consultant to review and develop recommendations to manage the natural forest areas, but there were no bidders for the project.

“We budgeted to do one of these studies, and we went out for bid and we didn't get much interest or anything that was really workable,” McGinnis said.

If approved for the grant, McGinnis said that he hoped the direct buy-in and support from the state of Michigan would allow the city to have a better list of resources and guidance to have a successful project.

“I'm hoping we get an academic study from one our many fine universities,” McGinnis added.

Those on City Council say they’re excited about the potential the grant opportunity provides.

“I think its high time we're looking at our urban forest and seeing what we can do to make them healthy, and see what's good and what's not so good," Mayor Geri McCaleb said.

McCaleb noted that the forests’ role in helping stabilize the dunes, and the emergence of many tree bugs and diseases, makes the grant proposal timely.

"I think this is a good plan," said McCaleb.

Councilman Bob Monetza was also glad to see the city pursue the grant.

“We're really good about street trees and we're pretty good about parks, but the entire urban forest is a lot bigger and broader than that," he said. “I think the health of it all is really important to the quality of life in this community and the quality of our ecosystem.”

Monetza said that getting a plan, working through that plan, and getting some expert advice and opinion would be “really valuable.”

“We just have to make it happen and make it become part of our culture here,” Monetza said.

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