New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced more than $956,000 in awards to four towns in western and central New York and Long Island to establish community forests.
Protecting forests from potential development and establishing new forested areas helps preserve biodiversity and safeguard the ecosystem benefits forests provide, such as storm water mitigation, temperature regulation, carbon sequestration, and climate resiliency. In addition, community forests bring community benefits by creating new opportunities for public access and recreation.
The inaugural round of the Community Forest Conservation Program grants represents an important step forward in providing key resources for communities to protect forest resources of local importance.
The Community Forest Conservation Grants, administered by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), inlcude:
- Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County: $225,000 to acquire 11.3 acres
- Town of Lewiston, Niagara County: $300,000 to acquire 66.9 acres
- Town of Webster, Monroe County: $270,089 to acquire 28.7 acres
- Town of Whitestown, Oneida County: $161,100 to acquire 15.9 acres
Funding for this grant program was provided by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), a resource for environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, recreation access, water quality improvement, and environmental justice projects.
A second round of Community Forest Conservation Grant funding is expected to be released in the second half of 2023. For more information on this program, visit DEC’s website.
Photo of Cunningham Community Forest in Chestertown, NY (courtesy Town of Chester).