Holden Arboretum receives federal earmark to fund local urban reforestation efforts

The Holden Arboretum announced last week that it will receive $335,000 in U.S. Congressionally directed spending (earmark) to support Holden’s Forest Resiliency and Conservation and Canopy Coverage Expansion Project.

The earmark was sponsored by sponsored by Ohio U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and is part of 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act signed into law by President Joe Biden in December. The money will promote science, conservation, and urban forestry and will be administered by the U.S. Forest Service.

“We are thrilled to receive this critical investment for our work in science, conservation and urban forestry that serves to protect our environment right here in Northeast Ohio, and well as the broader Great Lakes region,” says David Burke, PhD, Holden Forests & Gardens’ vice president of Science & Conservation. “The earmark funds will be used to support several specific projects that will increase and enhance forest cover in Northeast Ohio and, more broadly, the Great Lakes region,”

Burke says the funds specifically will be used to hire a seed bank technician to help run and organize Holden’s seed banking activities. “Reforestation and forest management are the best natural solutions for climate change,” he explains. “The seedbank will be used to intensify forest restoration throughout the lower Great Lakes region in collaboration with our partners.”

The seed bank can hold 10 million seeds, says Burke, which allows for plenty of opportunities to plant trees and restore forests.

Additionally, the funds will be used to train early career scientists in urban forestry. “We expect to hire young scientists for one-year fellowships to work with the Holden Arboretum on urban and rural forestry questions and issues,” Burke says, adding that the money will also be used to support and enhance Holden’s Tree Corps program, which offers hands-on experiential training in all aspects of tree care, tree planting, and maintenance.

“Trees are important for Ohio communities and are the best tool for combatting heat and rising surface temperatures in cities of all sizes,” said Senator Brown in a statement. “This investment in the Holden Arboretum will protect our existing forests, promote conservation and expand the tree canopy while training students in seed preservation and urban forestry.”

Holden Arboretum was the only Ohio constituent to be approved for U.S. Forest Service funds in the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act. Senator Brown was able to secure more than $180 million for 100 Ohio community projects in the bill.

“We thank Senator Sherrod Brown for his leadership on the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and Agriculture Committee,” said Joel Alpern, interim co-president & CEO of Holden Forests & Gardens in a statement. “The Senator understands the many benefits of improving urban tree canopy and continues to champion action to expand coverage as well as protect the forested lands of Ohio and the Great Lakes region from disease and other threats.”

In February 2021, Holden Forests & Gardens launched its People for Trees campaign to save Cleveland’s dwindling tree canopy, and the effort continues in a commitment to plant 15,000 trees by 2025.