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 in 27 impacted counties. 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.

The Community Forestry Grant Program provides reimbursable grants 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 the federal EAB Reforestation funds as a dollar-for-dollar match for state infrastructure derecho recovery funds. Award recipients will be reimbursed $1,000 to $10,000 for the purchase of trees and materials from Iowa businesses.

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, to plant 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.

Spring 2023 Award Recipients
A total of $132,666 was awarded to 19 projects. Award recipients include:

  • Boone County Conservation Board
  • City of Ames
  • City of Coralville
  • City of Des Moines
  • City of Iowa City
  • City of Jefferson Tree Committee
  • City of Johnston
  • City of Lone Tree
  • City of Maquoketa Tree Board
  • City of Marshalltown
  • City of Tipton
  • City of Urbandale
  • City of West Des Moines
  • Fellows Elementary School - Ames CSD
  • Jasper County Conservation Department
  • North High School - Des Moines Public Schools
  • Polk County Conservation Board
  • Story County Conservation
  • Trees Forever, Inc.

Trees for Kids Grant Program
The Trees for Kids grant program serves to educate K-12 and college students in Iowa about the importance of trees through tree planting events at schools and on public land. Grant recipients are awarded up to $2,500 per project to purchase trees and mulch from Iowa nurseries. DNR staff members provide planting, mulching, and watering demonstrations and offer guidance to students as they plant their trees.

2023 Award Recipients 
A total of $48,868 was awarded to 23 projects. Award recipients include:

  • City of Ames
  • City of Denison
  • City of Johnston
  • City of Newton
  • City of Spencer
  • City of Stuart
  • City of Waverly
  • East Marshall Middle School
  • Floyd County Conservation
  • Harrison County Conservation
  • Mason City Community School
  • North Polk West Elementary
  • Oelwein School
  • Onawa Public Library Friends Group
  • Orchard Hill Elementary
  • Parkview Middle School
  • Pekin Community High School
  • Polk County Conservation
  • South Central Calhoun Community Schools
  • Story County Conservation
  • Stratford Elementary School
  • Treynor Optimist Club
  • Winneshiek County Conservation

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


    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