Project Canopy, a cooperative partnership between the Maine Forest Service and GrowSmart Maine, recently announced the recipients of the 2015 Project Canopy Assistance Grants. The review team selected 12 Planning and Education grants and seven Tree Planting and Maintenance Grants, totaling $134,916 in awards. Planning grants were awarded to Auburn, Bangor, Bath, Bath Water District, Bethel, College of the Atlantic, Maine TREE Foundation, Merryspring Nature Center, Norway Orono and the Penobscot Nation. Planting grants were awarded to Belfast, Brewer School Department, Camden, Easton, Hallowell, Scarborough, Topsham and Yarmouth. Project Canopy received 24 applications, eight from new communities and organizations, with a total grant request of $173,763.

The grants are available to state, county and municipal governments, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations for developing and implementing community forestry projects and programs. Planting projects increase the health and livability of communities through sound tree planting and maintenance, while planning and education projects support sustainable community forestry management, and efforts to increase awareness of the benefits of trees and forests.

“Since 2003, Project Canopy has awarded more than $1.5 million in funding for community forestry projects. The average grants range from $6,000 to $8,000 and require a 50-percent cost-share with cash or in-kind services,” Project Canopy Director Jan Ames Santerre said in a news release from the organization. New this year is funding specific to a USDA Forest Service grant targeting Emerald Ash Borer preparedness and planning, and management planning, and USDA Forest Service funding targeting 10 communities in the western Maine region surrounding the town of Oxford.

The Bethel Conservation Commission will work with a forester, an intern and volunteers to inventory trees in the village of Bethel and adjacent public land, including the town common and two parks. The commission will engage local residents to learn more about trees and their importance to the community. The resulting inventory will contribute to the Comprehensive Plan, now undergoing review, and future planning of the conservation commission as it seeks to plant more trees and develop a corps of volunteers.

Project Canopy is funded by the USDA Forest Service Community Forestry Assistance Program. The USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program was authorized by the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 (PL95-313) and revised by the 1990 Farm Bill (PL101-624) to promote natural resource management in populated areas and improve quality of life.

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