City Awarded $1.87M to Grow South Bend’s Urban Forest

~ The City of South Bend has been awarded a competitive USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry grant of $1,867,730. This project will bring together City departments, the South Bend Community School Corporation (SBCSC), and nonprofits to rapidly scale up street tree production on underutilized land.

Mayor James Mueller expressed his gratitude for the grant, saying "Our urban forest makes our neighborhoods more vibrant and adds protection from extreme heat and flooding events. 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 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.

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Director of Buildings and Grounds at SBCSC Scott Kovatch said "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. This partnership enhances the city's green spaces and makes it a more vibrant and sustainable place for everyone to enjoy."

The grant is part of a larger initiative by the USDA Forest Service to award more than $1 billion to community organizations across the United States in order to increase equitable access to trees and nature. Office of Sustainability Project Manager Barbara Dale noted that "Trees provide so many benefits to our community, and some of our most vulnerable neighborhoods are lacking urban tree canopy. That is why we're incorporating environmental justice as a core component of our forestry efforts."

The next steps for this project include meeting with community partners, prepping nursery sites, and planning for a large planting in spring 2024. For more information about South Bend's urban tree canopy initiative please visit

Filed Under: Government, City

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