Congressman Higgins Announces Over $13.2 Million for Buffalo & Erie County through the Urban & Community Forestry Program
Award Will Support Buffalo Equity in Street Trees Program & Erie County Community Tree and Climate Equity Partnership Project
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced the City of Buffalo and Erie County have been awarded $13,218,834 combined in federal funding through the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. A total of $1 billion was available to communities throughout the country through a competitive grant program under the Inflation Reduction Act. All award agreements are for a 5-year period.
Higgins said, “It is said that the urban landscape has the power to hurt or to heal. This award represents a healing opportunity for Buffalo and Erie County, one that reignites Olmsted’s vision for a community filled with tree-lined parkways and public spaces. This continues our commitment to neighborhood revitalization through projects delivering greener, healthier communities across Western New York.”
Buffalo intends to use its $8 million grant to advance the implementation of its Buffalo Equity in Street Trees (BEST) Planting Program. The city will improve the density and health of the urban tree canopy, particularly in neighborhoods where urban forestry efforts need the most support. Higgins advocated for Buffalo in a letter of support to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Chief.
“This funding will help build upon our work to increase tree canopies citywide, as we continue to collaborate with residents in support of our expansion of green infrastructure,” said City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown. “I thank Congressman Brian Higgins for his support of the city’s mission to make Buffalo a more climate friendly place. I also commend the hard work of my administration for putting this grant application together.”
A second grant totaling $5,218,834 will support the Erie County Community Tree and Climate Equity Partnership Project. This initiative will increase the tree canopy in Erie County’s disadvantaged communities through the development of a county-wide climate equity community forest management plan that engages the community. This tree nurseries with workforce development opportunities, a riparian trail arboretum, fruit trees to address food insecurity, and an internship program and course at Erie Community College.
“We are beyond excited for the $5.2 million in funding for Erie County,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “In all seriousness, Erie County knows the business of trees! Erie County alone has 6,000 acres of forestry lots and conservation areas, and we know trees and greenery have a host of benefits,” Poloncarz continued. “By developing a county-wide Community Forestry Management Plan, we will be able to improve the health and well-being of urban, suburban, and rural communities across Erie County, enhance our county’s natural beauty, and further boost our green economy. Thank you to Congressman Higgins and our federal partners for being a champion of Erie County and Western New York, and a fantastic partner in government.”
The U.S. Forest Service estimate over 141 million acres of forest are located in cities and towns in the form of parks, river corridors, wetland, greenways, landscaped boulevards, and other sites. The green space that trees provide supports cleaner air, improves life quality, supports shoreline resilience, creates a natural coolant in the face of climate change, and facilitates green infrastructure solutions for rainwater runoff.
The grant funding for Buffalo and Erie County is part of the $73.55 million awarded to communities across New York State. New York also previously received $13.5 million for projects in disadvantaged communities to increase a healthy urban landscape. A total of $250 million was allocated to states across the country in 2023. The Inflation Reduction Act dedicates a total of $1.5 billion over 10 years to the Urban and Community Forestry Program.