Press Release

Senator Gillibrand Announces $20 Million In Federal Funding To Conserve And Build New Green Spaces In NYC

Sep 26, 2023

Federal Dollars Secured in the Inflation Reduction Act Will Help Create Green Jobs, Plant New Trees, and Maximize Green Spaces In Historically Disadvantaged Communities, Including Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Corona, and Neighborhoods Throughout the Bronx

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a press conference at the Central Park Arsenal announcing $20 million in federal funding to plant and maintain trees, combat extreme heat and climate change, and expand access to green spaces in NYC. Senator Gillibrand helped secure this funding in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which included $1.5 billion over the next 10 years for the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry program. The funding will be distributed to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and The Bronx is Blooming. Access to urban green spaces will help increase quality of life in New York by promoting clean air, cool neighborhoods, and health benefits. Senator Gillibrand was joined by NYC Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue, Executive Director of New York Restoration Project Lynn Kelly, and Executive Director of The Bronx is Blooming Jennifer Beaugrand.

“Expanding access to trees and green spaces in New York and historically disadvantaged communities throughout Queens and the Bronx will give our communities a higher quality of life. I’m so proud to deliver this $20 million investment in Inflation Reduction Act funding, which will help combat extreme heat, create equitable access to green spaces, improve air quality, and better the overall quality of life in this great city,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This money will help bring new life for New Yorkers to enjoy a greener, healthier environment.”

“Thank you to the Biden Administration and our congressional delegation for providing critical funding for our city’s trees, some of the hardest working trees in the nation,” says Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. ”NYC trees are much more than pretty foliage for our public spaces – they lower temperatures and absorb storm water in the midst of increasingly oppressive heat and torrential rains, they clean our air and they provide home to our wildlife, and the essential work of planting and maintenance provides good green jobs for New Yorkers.”

“The parks of New York are a jewel of our city,” said Assemblymember Tony Simone. “New Yorkers rely on green spaces for a breath of fresh air and to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The funds that Senator Gillibrand is announcing today are an incredible investment in the park system and especially in the underserved communities who will be able to build careers in forestry as a result. Investments like this will ensure New Yorkers have access to green space in our city for years to come.”

“Our urban forest is vital to New Yorkers, and we sincerely thank our congressional delegation, our local elected officials, and our many partners for their advocacy for this grant,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “Thanks to this investment, our city will soon have more trees, expanded and more resilient forests, and new green jobs, helping us to further our commitment to expanding and preserving our natural environment.”

“New York Restoration Project is thrilled that trees are getting the critical investment that they deserve,” said Lynn Bodnar Kelly, Executive Director of New York Restoration Project. “As we know from our work on the groundbreaking MillionTreesNYC initiative, trees are New Yorkers’ natural allies in mitigating heat, sequestering excess carbon, and absorbing excess rainwater in the face of the climate crisis. We applaud Senator Gillibrand’s leadership in bringing game-changing funds to bolster New York’s urban forest.”

The Bronx is Blooming is honored to receive this $5 million grant from the USDA Forest Service. This unprecedented investment will engage thousands of local students, Bronx youth, and diverse community partners in tree planting and stewardship, equipping them with the tools to grow and support our urban canopy,” said Jenn Beaugrand, Founder and Executive Director of The Bronx is Blooming. “We are incredibly excited about the opportunities this grant will create for our community to come together to give Bronx green spaces the love and care they deserve.”

On average, temperatures in urban forests are 2.9 degrees lower than in un-forested urban areas. Across New York City, over 7 million people, or nearly 80% of New Yorkers, are affected by elevated temperatures. The Inflation Reduction Act included historic investments to flight climate change, including funding to create equitable access to green spaces across New York. Urban forests help cool our neighborhoods, protect New Yorkers from dangerous heat waves, and improve air quality, health and mental health outcomes, and overall quality of life. The Inflation Reduction Act included $1.5 billion over the next 10 years for the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry program.

The federal funding announced today will be distributed between the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and The Bronx is Blooming. The projects financed by the funding are described below.

NYC Department of Parks and Recreation: The first project will establish a green job training and employment program, providing a pathway into forest restoration careers for underserved communities. The second project includes growing the urban forest through planting trees and preserving existing trees. It promotes community engagement through outreach, education, and empowerment. The project also offers paid training and employment opportunities for youth and adults, focusing on workforce development and green jobs.

The Bronx is Blooming: This project engages K-12 students in environmental education and tree stewardship, provides green jobs and forestry training for local youth, and brings new trees to Bronx neighborhoods. It addresses long-standing environmental and health inequities related to air quality, excessive heat, and park access, while creating economic opportunities in disadvantaged communities.