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For Release: Friday, April 29, 2022

In Celebration of Arbor Day, DEC Announces $750,000 in Second Round of 'Regenerate NY' Forestry Grants

Funding Now Available for Eligible Private Forest Landowners to Establish and Renew New York Forests

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today commemorated Arbor Day by announcing $750,000 in funding now available for the second round of the State's 'Regenerate NY' Forestry Cost Share Grant Program. The grant program is designed to assist private landowners in growing the next generation of forests, which are crucial for mitigating climate change, providing wildlife habitat, protecting air and water quality, and supplying an important renewable resource. A third of the total available funds ($250,000) is specifically earmarked for tree planting projects that will establish new forests or supplement the regeneration of existing ones.

"Arbor Day is an inspiration for all New Yorkers to celebrate the importance of trees to our health, environment, and economy and to take actions collectively to preserve our forests for future generations," said Commissioner Seggos. "While climate change, invasive species and white-tailed deer are threatening the health of our trees and forests, I'm proud of the work our expert foresters are doing to advance programs, like Regenerate NY that help forest landowners protect and sustainably manage our essential forest resources and the many benefits they provide. DEC encourages more New Yorkers to take advantage of these programs and help advance our forest conservation efforts across the state."

With nearly 75 percent of New York's 18.7 million acres of forestland being privately owned, the grants help support landowners in growing healthy forests. Regenerate NY is funded by New York State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and managed by DEC's Division of Lands and Forests. Private landowners who own between 10 and 1,000 acres of forest land in New York State may apply for grant awards ranging from a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $50,000, with a required 25 percent match. Eligible projects include, but are not limited to, planting trees, soil scarification, removing competing vegetation that would interfere with seedling establishment and growth, and installation of deer fencing. Applicants must work with a private forester to develop their project. Up to two applications may be submitted per applicant, provided the applications are for separate properties.

In the first year of the grant program in 2021, DEC awarded nearly $450,000 for 16 projects covering 503 practice acres. More than 12,000 tree seedlings are being planted across New York State thanks to the funding provided by that round of grants. Through these plantings, private landowners are ensuring the next generation of forests and all the benefits they provide by fostering existing forestland regeneration and establishing new forested areas. The sizes of projects varied, with the largest project covering 78 acres and the smallest involving half an acre. Contracts were executed to reforest a total of nearly 100 acres, restore 105 acres of forest stands, manage competing vegetation on 176 acres, and install deer fencing on 127 acres, among other projects.

"Forests are one of our best tools in the fight against climate change," said New York State Forester and Division of Lands and Forests Director Robert Davies. "Not only do trees absorb and store carbon as they grow, but products made from wood require significantly less energy to make than their carbon dioxide-intense counterparts like aluminum and plastic, and solid wood products continue to store carbon well beyond a tree's lifetime. New York's private forests remove enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in one year to negate the emissions of two million gasoline-powered automobiles over the same time period, underscoring the importance of investing in the regeneration of forests."

"The New York Forest Owner's Association applauds the Regenerate NY Forestry Cost Share Grant Program," said the organization's President, Stacey Kazacos. "Funding stewardship and regeneration efforts will help ensure our forests continue to support New York's rural economy, protect our water and air quality, and sequester carbon for generations to come. We look forward to the long-term improvements this initiative will contribute to our communities throughout the state."

"In order to foster successful regeneration, forest landowners must actively manage and implement costly measures to ensure the next generation of forests, which in turn provide carbon sequestration benefits, as well as habitat and other ecosystem benefits for biodiversity," said John Bartow, Empire State Forest Products Association. "Regenerate NY is a critical financial assistance package for New York forest owners to actively manage and steward forests for the future, and we applaud DEC, the State Legislature and Governor Hochul for the continued support for Regenerate NY in the Environmental Protection Fund."

Michelle Brown, The Nature Conservancy's New York Senior Conservation Scientist, said, "The Nature Conservancy is thrilled the State budget included record funding for the Environmental Protection Fund and dedicated funding to protect and expand New York's forests through Regenerate NY. New York's forests are a powerful tool in the fight against climate change as healthy trees and soil absorb and store carbon. Forests also provide clean air and water and wildlife habitat. State conservation funding is critical to protecting our natural resources and addressing climate change. The Nature Conservancy commends and thanks Governor Hochul and the State Legislature for including historic conservation investments in this year's budget."

Among the many environmental victories in the enacted 2022-23 State Budget (leaves DEC website), Governor Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders increased the New York's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to $400 million, the highest-ever level of funding in the program's history. The EPF supports climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts including Regenerate NY, improves agricultural resources to promote sustainable agriculture, protects water sources, advances conservation efforts, and provides recreational opportunities for New Yorkers.

Applications may be submitted through the New York State Grants Gateway (leaves DEC website) and will be accepted until 3 p.m. on Oct. 7, 2022, or until funds are depleted, whichever comes first. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis. Applicants need to establish an account in the Grants Gateway System. Once registered, applicants can search the Grants Gateway for "Regenerate NY." DEC is holding a webinar for interested applicants on Friday, May 6, at 10 a.m. For instructions on how to access the webinar via phone or computer, or for details about the grant opportunity including application criteria, visit DEC's website.

Arbor Day is a nationally celebrated observance held on the last Friday of April each year. It was originally established in 1872 to encourage farmers and homesteaders to plant trees for shade, fuel, and beauty in open areas. Today, it is an opportunity to promote tree planting and care while we celebrate everything trees do for us. From a several hundred-acre rural forest to the street trees of an urban forest, all trees are important for providing invaluable ecosystem services and societal benefits that affect our everyday lives. To learn more about Arbor Day, visit DEC's website.

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