USDA Forest Service Awards Anchorage Park Foundation $2M for Forest Health

USDA Secretary Vilsack Announces Grants as part of National Climate Justice Campaign 

Anchorage, AK – Urban areas and forestlands in Anchorage will get a lot healthier under a new grant from the USDA Forest Service. Grant funding from the Inflation Reduction Act through the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program weaves together a broad network of partners to strategically address environmental injustices in areas of Anchorage through targeted restoration, environmental education, workforce development, and community engagement. The grant builds on years of successful partnership between the Forest Service, Anchorage Park Foundation, and Anchorage Parks & Recreation Department.

Support from the Forest Service will advance restoration priorities including planting trees in low canopy areas that coincide with disadvantaged communities in north Anchorage, bank stabilization and revegetation of riparian habitat along anadromous streams, replanting areas impacted by spruce bark beetle kill removal, and management of invasive species, including the pervasive European Bird Cherry.

“Trees help mitigate climate impacts, keep salmon streams cool, provide nesting habitat for birds, keep our air clean and increase property values,” said Michelle LeBeau, acting executive director for the Anchorage Park Foundation. “It’s time to work with youth to grow more trees in low-income neighborhoods.”

The grant activities add value to APF’s existing forest health work with Youth Employment in Parks. The five-year workplan will provide workforce development opportunities, direct resources to underserved communities, and engage youth in hands-on environmental education field studies.

“Protecting and enhancing the tree canopy in Anchorage and across the country is critical,” said Michael Shephard, the USDA Forest Service Deputy Director of State, Private and Tribal Forestry. “We are thrilled that Anchorage is a part of this national effort to invest in the forests of our communities.”

The public is invited to learn more about forest health at the Anchorage Tree Forum Wednesday, September 20 from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm at Wendler Middle School.

The Biden Administration awarded more than $1 billion in grants nationally as part of an effort to increase Americans’ access to trees and green space. Anchorage Park Foundation’s $2 million award is part of $5 million invested in four grants announced for Alaska.