Urban Forestry, image of a street lined with trees

Tree Grants and Giveaways

Community Forestry Grant Program
The Iowa Legislature appropriated state infrastructure funds to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to be used for a community-based tree planting program for derecho recovery tree planting. A total of $250,000 in matching funds are available for 27 impacted counties (see map in the application form). Additionally, through the USDA Forest Service & National Association of State Foresters (NASF) 2022 State Urban Forest Resilience Grant Program, the DNR received Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Reforestation funds. A total of $250,000 in matching funds will be made available to the same 27 counties that also suffered losses from EAB.

The Community Forestry Grant Program provides reimbursable grants from $500 to $5,000 to be used to purchase and plant trees suitable to Iowa. For this round of grants, award recipients in counties impacted by both the August 10, 2020 derecho and Emerald Ash Borer will be awarded federal EAB Reforestation funds as a dollar-for-dollar match for state infrastructure derecho recovery funds. Award recipients will be reimbursed up to $5,000 of derecho recovery grant funds and $5,000 grant match funds.

These Community Forestry Grants are available to state and local governments entities, schools and volunteer organizations and service organizations involved with local urban and community forest services, for planting trees on publicly owned lands owned by state, county or local governments and located within the State of Iowa (DNR lands are not eligible). Qualifying public planting lands include, but are not limited to, street right-of-ways, parks, school grounds, courthouse lawns, public buildings, fairgrounds, cemeteries, libraries and trails.

Fall 2022 Award Recipients
A total of $378,305 was awarded to 48 projects. Award recipients include:

  • Audubon Community School District
  • ​BCLUW Community School District
  • ​City of Altoona
  • City of Ames
  • ​City of Bondurant - CVT
  • City of Bondurant - Parks
  • City of Bondurant - ROW
  • City of Cedar Rapids
  • City of Center Point
  • City of Colfax
  • City of Dallas Center
  • City of Dexter
  • City of Fairfax
  • City of Grand Junction
  • City of Grimes
  • City of Grinnell
  • City of Grundy Center
  • City of Hiawatha
  • City of Iowa City
  • City of Lisbon
  • City of Maquoketa
  • City of Marion
  • City of Maxwell
  • City of Muscatine
  • City of North Liberty
  • City of Palo
  • City of Panora
  • City of Reinbeck
  • City of Tipton
  • City of Waukee
  • City of West Des Moines
  • City of Zearing
  • Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation
  • Clear Creek Amana Community School District
  • Colfax Parks & Recreation Auxiliary Board
  • College Community School District
  • Dallas County Conservation Board
  • Des Moines Area Community College
  • Greene County Conservation Board
  • Grundy County
  • Grundy County Conservation Board
  • Jefferson Tree Committee
  • Johnston Community School District
  • Linn County Conservation Board
  • Lone Tree Community School District
  • Scott County Conservation Board
  • Sixth Judicial District DCS
  • Trees Forever Marshalltown

Spring 2022 Applications Coming soon
The Spring season will award the remaining $121,696.
 


Trees for Kids Grant Program
Applications are due in March, and are open to public organizations such as municipalities, schools, neighborhood associations, parks and recreation departments, county conservation boards, etc.

Recipients of the Trees for Kids grants can receive up to $2,500 to buy trees and mulch from a nursery, but must include youth education, preferably by having youth help plant the trees.

Application Coming Soon.
 


Free Community Seedlings
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), through a grant with the U.S. Forest Service, has been awarding communities in counties up to 200 free seedlings from the Iowa DNR’s State Forest Nursery. 

Any community is eligible to apply for these free native hardwood and conifer seedlings, even if they have received seedlings through this grant in previous years. Spring of 2023 will have 3,000 trees available, and will be awarded in the order they are received.

The seedlings can be planted on public property or distributed to residents throughout the community to plant on private property. Cities or public organizations can choose to do both public and private property plantings. The seedlings must be planted within city limits.

Any city or public organization interested in applying for the free seedlings should complete the grant application. If awarded the seedlings, they can be picked up from the Iowa DNR State Forest Nursery in Ames or shipped for free.

Free Tree Seedling Spring 2023 Application
 

Community Tree Inventories

The Iowa DNR, in cooperation with Iowa forestry professionals and USDA Forest Service, conducts inventories and completes management plans for Iowa communities of 5,000 residents or less on an ongoing basis.  

The purpose of an inventory is to gather accurate information about the composition and condition of a community’s city-owned tree resources, so that the community is able to manage its trees most effectively.

Inventory and management plan benefits include:

  • Monetary valuation of the numerous benefits that trees provide to a community
  • Creation of a long-term management plan and justification for allocation of necessary funding
  • Identification and assessment of hazard trees, which pose a potential threat to life and property
  • Determination of short and long-term management and canopy goals
  • Prioritization of community’s forestry resources, including staff time and equipment, and increased efficiency of such resources
  • Maintenance and growth of a safe, healthy, and productive urban forest

Most importantly, the information gathered through an inventory and compiled into a management plan gives a community the tools it needs to move from a reactive position of responding to storm damage, invasive pests such as emerald ash borer (EAB), and other catastrophes after they occur, to a proactive position where it can potentially minimize the harm these events are capable of doing before they happen.

For interactive and up-to-date information about the city-owned trees in your community, please click the "View My Community's Trees" bar below and follow these INSTRUCTIONS (NOTE: to view a management plan for your community, or to determine whether your community has had an inventory conducted recently, please refer to the management plans listed under the "Urban Forestry Management Plans" heading below).

 

View My Community's Trees

Urban Forestry Management Plans
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    Tree City USA and Tree Campus USA

    The National Arbor Day Foundation's Tree City USA program is coordinated by Iowa DNR with the goal of enhancing the forest resources of Iowa communities. The program recognizes cities and towns that have provided an outstanding example for other communities through the improvement of their forest resources. In order for a community to qualify, it must:

    • possess either a city forester or an active tree board
    • have a tree ordinance
    • spend at least $2 per capita annually for its community forestry program
    • observe Arbor Day through a community proclamation and celebration

    To fill out an application, or for more information, please visit Tree City USA

    Return completed applications to:
    Emma Hanigan
    Wallace State Office Building
    502 E. 9th Street
    Des Moines, IA 50319-0034

    Completed paper applications also require the following worksheet:
    Attachment C


    The National Arbor Day Foundation's Tree Campus USA  program promotes the establishment and maintenance of healthy college and university campus forests for the benefit of current and future students and residents. The program recognizes schools that effectively manage their campus trees, develop connectivity with their communities, and engage their students in service learning opportunities. 

    Requirements are as follows:

    • Campus Tree Advisory Committee
    • Campus Tree Care Plan
    • Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Annual Expenditures
    • Arbor Day Observance
    • Service Learning Project

    To fill out an application, or for more information, please visit Tree Campus USA.


    Return completed applications to:
    Emma Hanigan
    Wallace State Office Building
    502 E. 9th Street
    Des Moines, IA 50319-0034