The U.S. Forest Service is allocating more than $100 million for grants meant to achieve “tree equity,” according to a Daily Caller News Foundation analysis.
The Forest Service announced on Sept. 14 that it had allocated over $1 billion toward expanding “access” to trees, including 17 grant proposals that promote “tree equity” with a total value of $101,096,371. “Tree Equity” is a term first coined by American Forests, a conservation nonprofit, that blames the lack of trees in minority neighborhoods on “redlining and other discriminatory policies,” according to the organization’s website.
While trees cover nearly half of Atlanta, the most coverage in the nation according to Trees Atlanta, the Forest Service approved a grant to the city for $10 million to “address issues related to tree equity” and develop a “sustainable, diverse nature-based workforce.” Similarly, San Francisco had 14,543 trees per square mile as of 2021, and the Forest Service allocated $14 million to plant more trees this year, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.
The push to achieve tree equity was part of a broader initiative undertaken by the Forest Service involving more than $1 billion spread across 385 grants intended to make America greener, according to a Forest Service press release. Every dollar of funding allocated through this initiative is set to flow into “disadvantages [sic] communities.”
A grant to the Oregon Department of Forestry worth $22,857,196, one of the biggest individual grants approved by the Forest Service, promises to use “Indigenous ecological knowledge” to train people in planting, maintaining and monitoring trees. Another grant to the Ebiil Society for $740,000 will also use “Indigenous ecological knowledge” to teach people about trees.
Aurora, Colorado’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Open Space received $5,000,000 to plant trees in neighborhoods with “high immigrant and refugee populations” in order to “prioritize equity, social justice and sustainable urban forest management.”
The Biden administration has adopted an all-of-government approach to pursuing racial equity. On Jan. 20, 2021, the day he took office, President Biden issued executive order 13985, titled “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.”
Through the order, Biden asserted it is “the policy of my Administration that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality. ” As part of the order, all federal agencies were audited to gauge whether they were sufficiently committed to equity.
“Urban and Community Forestry is a covered program under the Agency’s Justice40 Initiative established through Executive Order 13985,” the Forest Service said in response to a Daily Caller News Foundation inquiry regarding the tree equity initiative.
“To advance the mission of Justice40, the UCF program delivers 40% of the program’s investments through established and new partnerships working to support disadvantaged communities experiencing low tree canopy and environmental justice issues.”Republished with permission from The Daily Caller News Foundation.