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DEC releases Environmental Bond Act draft eligibility guidelines to support planting 25 million trees by 2033


Thu, Feb 8th 2024 06:20 pm

Draft guidelines available for public comment through March 8

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released for public comment new proposed eligibility guidelines to improve, expand, and assess the state’s forestry efforts on public and private lands under the $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Growing New York’s next generation of forests is vital to ensuring community resiliency and fighting climate change, and the guidelines released today are an important step in advancing Gov. Kathy Hochul’s commitment to plant 25 million trees by 2033. The modernization and expansion of our tree nursery capacity and a new tree planting database will ensure our aggressive tree planting efforts directly benefit communities statewide, and I encourage New Yorkers to provide input on this bond act-supported initiative.” 

A press release stated, “To further achieve New York’s climate goals, Hochul’s 2024 State of the State Address and executive budget included $47 million to support a new goal of planting 25 million trees statewide by 2033. This goal will invigorate our state’s tree planting efforts, send an unmistakable market signal to private nurseries, advance efforts to meet the Climate Act’s net-zero goal, and grow the state’s vital forest products industry. Capital investments through the bond act and other state sources, and multiyear annual grants to municipalities to plant trees in support of resilient reforestation and urban forests, are key components of this initiative.”

The draft eligibility guidelines available for comment enable the public to provide input on the implementation of bond act funding for forestry and community health benefits as part of the $400 million directed toward climate change mitigation. Once finalized, the criteria will guide funding allocations DEC will use to undertake state-administered forestry projects. Additional eligibility guidelines will be developed to include grant opportunities for locally administered initiatives. 

The press release noted, “The guidelines support building capacity by repairing and/or updating capacity to produce seedlings and bare-root trees through the upgrade and modernization of seed production facilities such as DEC’s Colonel William F. Fox Memorial Saratoga Tree Nursery. Investments would also support the development and modernization of greenhouses using renewable energy to provide expanded seed processing and storage capabilities, and create a forest and ecosystem health lab facility to promote ecosystem health, enhance carbon sequestration, and support scientific research.

“To assist with tracking the progress made with these upgrades and other ongoing forestry initiatives, the guidelines support investing bond act funding to create a database for tracking forest stand asset creation, tree planting, inventory, assessment, management and monitoring, and data dashboards reporting on acreage and type of land conserved. The database will help meet New York state’s ‘30 x 30 goal’ to conserve 30% of the state’s land and water by 2030, and mandates for modelling forest carbon sequestration and storage that contribute to achieving New York state’s climate goals. The database would also enhance collaboration among DEC programs, stakeholders and other partners by providing a platform for sharing information and coordinating landscape-wide reforestation efforts, particularly in disadvantaged communities, on both private and public properties.

The full eligibility guidelines are available in the Environmental Notice Bulletin. Public comments on the draft guidelines may be submitted in writing to: Division of Lands and Forests, NYS DEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12223; or by email to [email protected]. Public comments will be accepted through Friday, March 8.

For more information, visit www.ny.gov/BondAct.

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