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Georgia ReLeaf

The Georgia Tree Council (GTC) and the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC), in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service, partner in administering the Georgia ReLeaf program. This program makes funding available to municipalities, government agencies, non-profits and educational institutions in Georgia for tree planting and tree-giveaways. Currently, funding is focused on projects benefiting disadvantaged communities experiencing low tree canopy and environmental justice. The USDA Forest Service, authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act and the Community Forestry Assistance Act of the 1990 Farm Bill, has allocated funding to the Georgia Forestry Commission for statewide distribution, in partnership with the Georgia Tree Council. See details of this funding below.

2023-24:Georgia Tree Council has awarded $121,049 in IRA and non-IRA funding to Savannah Tree Foundation, Chatham County, Colquitt, Winterville, City of Dublin, Tifton, Rome, Lawrenceville, Keep Warner Robins Beautiful, Toccoa, Hands On Thomas County, Brunswick Tree Board, Thomaston, City of Valdosta, Cedartown, Cornelia, Oxford, Newborn.  

The dates for the 2024 Georgia ReLeaf grant cycle will be announced soon.

Read guidelines carefully and thoroughly before clicking submit button below to start your application.

 

GRANT GUIDELINES

Funding for this Program (Legislative Authority)

The USDA Forest Service, authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act and the Community Forestry Assistance Act of the 1990 Farm Bill, has allocated funding to the Georgia Forestry Commission for statewide distribution, in partnership with the Georgia Tree Council.

Subtitle D, Sec. 23003 (a). State and Private Forestry Conservation Programs via the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) appropriated $1,500,000,000 to provide multiyear, programmatic, competitive grants. Of this total allocation $9,750,000 was allocated to Georgia to be distributed statewide over a 5-year period. Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) is also covered under the Agency’s Justice40 Initiative established through Executive Order 13985. To advance the mission of Justice40, proposals should deliver the benefits of IRA investments through established partnerships with local organizations working to support disadvantaged communities experiencing low tree canopy and environmental justice.

The USDA is a partner on the Interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Promoting Equitable Access to Nature in Nature-Deprived Communities, which seeks to reduce the number of people without access to parks and nature in their communities. The America the Beautiful Initiative supports the prioritization of locally led conservation and park projects in communities that disproportionately lack access to nature and its benefits.

Therefore, the priority of the Georgia ReLeaf program is DISADVANTAGED COMMUNITIES as per the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST). CEJST is a geospatial mapping tool to identify census tracts that are overburdened by climate change, pollution or other environmental or socioeconomic factors. These communities are considered disadvantaged because they are overburdened and underserved.

Other government sanctioned data sources may be considered, but the focus is on the CEJST tool. Also visit https://treeequityscore.org to learn more about why trees are critical for every community and how to determine a community’s tree equity score, a measure of how well a neighborhood is benefitting from healthy community trees.

Program Objectives

The objectives of the Georgia ReLeaf Program are to:

1) Contribute to tree equity in disadvantaged communities.

2) Improve the environmental, economic, and social health of Georgia communities

3) Help sustain health and diversity in Georgia’s community forests

4) Improve planning efforts of city administrators, municipal tree departments and tree boards

5) Increase environmental and health benefits to combat the effects of climate change.

Program Overview

Projects submitted must be for 1) Tree Planting projects and/or 2) Tree Giveaway events which meet at least one of the program objectives.

Tree Planting Projects* must meet the following criteria:

1)     Take place within city/county limits or boundaries (parks, schools, playgrounds, greenspaces, rights-of-way, business districts, parking lots, downtown areas) and on city/county property. Personal property will not be considered.

2)    Include a tree planting site plan and map using aerial photography or GIS. Locations (addresses, zip codes or GPS coordinates) of all trees must be provided by the end of the project.

3)    Include a 3-year maintenance plan.

4)    Be endorsed by the local government or by the Department of Transportation, if applicable.

*If your Georgia ReLeaf application is approved, your project will be assigned to a GFC Community Forestry Specialist to review and sign off on your planting and maintenance plans.

Tree Giveaway Projects** must:

1)    Distribute containerized (1 gallon to 15 gallon) trees to homeowners and residents

2)    Collect zip codes, addresses or census tracts from recipients indicating locations where trees will be planted and input data into a provided Survey123 mapping tool.

3)    Distribute educational materials, which will be provided by GFC, such as the Tree Owner’s Manual, links to instructional planting videos like this one on Planting Containerized Trees, species fact sheets and other tree care information for homeowners and residents.

4)    Develop a plan for the distribution of any trees remaining after the initial event.

**If your Georgia ReLeaf project is funded, a GFC Community Forestry Specialist will be   available to assist with the project.  Please review this suggested checklist.   

Ineligible Projects

The Georgia ReLeaf Program is not intended for the purpose of beautification tree plantings, community orchards/food forests, landscaping for new/recent construction projects or trail construction/maintenance.

Projects involving food forests, larger (greater than $15,000) plantings, and private property may be eligible to apply through GFC’s Trees Across Georgia (TAG) grant program which will be available in August 2024.

Eligible Recipients

Funds may be awarded to units of local governments (city, town, county), non-profit organizations or educational institutions in Georgia.  Other organizations, such as community tree volunteer groups, neighborhood associations or civic groups which are not 501(c)3 are eligible but must apply in partnership with a non-profit organization or with their local government.

All applicants must have BOTH a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) and a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI). Information on obtaining a UEI can be found at SAM.gov. This video may also be helpful. www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uv1YNAsINk

Available Funds

Funding is for the purchase of trees, staking and watering materials (if needed) and tree installation costs (if needed) only. The Georgia Tree Council and Georgia Forestry Commission reserves the right to reject any and all proposals or to approve partial funding for any and all proposals. Maximum grant award is $15,000.

Match Requirements

If 100% of the project is serving a disadvantaged community, your project is eligible for a match waiver as per the IRA guidelines. To justify the match waiver, verification of the project’s location on the CEJST tool must be provided along with a written explanation of how the project will impact a disadvantaged community.

If the project is not providing 100% of the benefits to a disadvantaged community, it is not eligible for IRA funding. However, other Community Forestry Assistance funds may be awarded which requires a dollar-for-dollar match. Your match may include in-kind contributions, volunteer assistance, and private and public (non-Federal) monetary contributions. All matching funds must be specifically related to the proposed project and cannot be used as match on any other Federal cost-share project. The source of the match, cash and in-kind, must be identified and quantified in the application by uploading letters of intended support. Funds expended prior to the date of the grant agreement cannot be used as match. Funds expended for food, beverages, computers, or construction cannot be used as match. Documentation of all matching funds must be provided in the final report.

Grant Timeframe

The 2024 grant application submission period will be announced later this spring.  Approved projects begin only after a grant agreement is signed by the recipient and received by the Georgia Tree Council. Georgia ReLeaf-funded projects must be completed before March 31. In Georgia, the best time to plant trees is November - March, as the cooler temperatures give the tree roots time to get established before the warmer temperatures set in.

Invoices and Final Reports

An invoice for trees/materials showing order or purchase of the trees and a final report is required of grantees. The final report must include before and after photos (attached in .jpg or picture files), a summary of your completed project, a breakdown of how the grant dollars and match (if applicable) are spent, copies of paid invoices/receipts for the approved Georgia ReLeaf-covered expenses (if applicable) and documentation of how the match requirement was met. Detailed Final Report guidelines will be sent to Georgia ReLeaf grant recipients.

Project Evaluation

Project proposals will be evaluated on whether or not the information provided about the project indicates that the project:

  • Meets a demonstrated urban forestry need for underserved communities
  • Meets Georgia ReLeaf Program Objectives
  • Has a realistic time frame for completion
  • Is cost effective
  • Has documented cash and in-kind matching commitment if applicable
  • Has a planting plan with appropriate species for plantings
  • Has a maintenance plan for plantings
  • Enhances volunteer involvement
  • Involves various partnerships
  • Utilizes personnel that have qualifications to complete activities
  • Generates local visibility, incorporates public relations and awareness
  • Enhances environmental, social, cultural, historical, psychological and economical values
  • Shows demonstrated ability of the applicant to follow through on project completion

Additional Resources

Potential applicants can contact the Georgia Forestry Commission or the Georgia Tree Council as appropriate to obtain assistance or information from local and state resources.

Georgia Tree Council:   www.gatreecouncil.org

Georgia Forestry Commission: gatrees.org

To find your local GFC Community Forestry Specialist: 

https://gatrees.org/about/county-contacts/

International Society of Arboriculture:  www.isa-arbor.com

Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA Program: www.ArborDay.org

Download the TREE OWNER'S MANUAL here.

Read Community Tree Planting and Establishment Guidelines from the Georgia Forestry Commission

You may want to read Tree Planning and Planting Campaigns: A Guide for Reforesting Cities and Towns - A Community Tree Planning and Planting Guide from the Green Infrastructure Center.

Planting Containerized Trees Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SASV9BcvZgk&feature=youtu.be

Any questions?

Call Mary Lynne Beckley at 470-905-8541 or email marylynne@gatreecouncil.org.

To begin your application, click on the button below.

                           
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