September 27, 2023
The City of South Bend, in collaboration with community partners, was awarded $1,867,730 through a competitive USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry grant. This project will bring together City departments, the South Bend Community School Corporation, and nonprofits to rapidly scale up street tree production on underutilized land.
“Our urban forest makes our neighborhoods more vibrant and adds protection from extreme heat and flooding events,” said Mayor James Mueller. “I thank the USDA Forest Service for this grant that will advance our climate action plan and help us meet our goal of planting 100,000 trees across the city by 2050.”
The City has identified vacant lots, stormwater retention basins, and public schools as sites capable of housing 23.5 acres of additional urban tree nursery space to grow 9,000 trees over 3-5 years. Shirley Heinze Land Trust, a regional environmental nonprofit, will help develop urban forestry curriculums for SBCSC and Empowerment Zone students and land managers involved in the project. Indiana University South Bend will provide support with research and monitoring of social and environmental impacts.
“South Bend Schools is excited to collaborate with the City of South Bend, contributing several acres of land for use for the tree nursery project,” said Director of Buildings and Grounds, Scott Kovatch. “This partnership enhances the city’s green spaces and makes it a more vibrant and sustainable place for everyone to enjoy.”
Across the United States, the USDA Forest Service awarded more than $1 billion to community and faith-based organizations, Tribes, cities, towns, and other partners to increase equitable access to trees and nature, and all the benefits they provide.
“Trees provide so many benefits to our community, and some of our most vulnerable neighborhoods are lacking urban tree canopy,” said Office of Sustainability Project Manager, Barbara Dale. “That is why we’re incorporating environmental justice as a core component of our forestry efforts.”
Next steps for the grant include meeting with community partners, prepping nursery sites, and planning for a large planting in the spring of 2024.
To learn more about South Bend’s urban tree canopy initiative, please visit southbendin.gov/urbanforest.