Community Initiatives

The Nebraska Forest Service and Nebraska Statewide Arboretum provide key services to municipalities, green industry professionals, and community tree advocacy groups and organizations. The following programs are examples of initiatives that have been funded by the US Forest Service and the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

two people planting a tree

Ten Free Trees

*In-kind match required

This program offers up to 10 trees per project. Projects can vary but need to be on public property and provide a clear public benefit. The only other requirement is that the recipient conducts a public outreach effort (community tree celebration, volunteer planting, newspaper article, etc.) and report activities to the NFS. We are especially interested in and encourage applicants to consider street tree plantings in neighborhoods of highest need.

Focus Areas: 

  • Planting trees in public spaces and areas of civic importance 

Project Requirements: 

Projects must be located in Nebraska and focused on a property of civic importance and that provides a clear public benefit. Eligible planting sites include street right-of-way, parks, school grounds, college campuses, the grounds of civic buildings, recreation areas, common areas, and cemeteries. Trees can be planted in front and side yards of private property if they will help shade public streets and sidewalks. Grant applicants must represent a group or organization.

The deadline for application is July 31st, 2023.

Apply Here
looking up into the tree canopy of a cottonwood

Community Forest and Open Space

We are searching for municipalities and private landowners that are interested in partnering to expand public access to forests near their communities. Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, communities and qualifying nonprofits can apply for funding to establish “community forests” through the acquisition of private forestlands. 

The grant program aims to protect forestland from conversion while providing access for recreation, education, wildlife protection, and sustainable forest management. Grants are available as a 50% cost-share match with a maximum award of $400,000. Matches can include cash, in-kind services, or donations.

To qualify properties must have private forestland that is:

  • at least five acres in size,
  • suitable to sustain natural vegetation,
  • at least 75 percent forested 

The lands must also be threatened by conversion to non-forest use, must be offered for sale by a willing seller, and if acquired by an eligible entity, must provide defined community benefits under Community Forest Program and allow public access.

Program Details

A forester leading a workshop

Inflation Reduction Act

The recent Inflation Reduction Act is an unprecedented investment in community forestry. The USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) Program recently awarded 1.875 million in Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) grant funding to the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS). This program's goal is to help improve community forestry in disadvantaged communities.

  • Increased and equitable access to the urban tree canopy and associated human health, environmental, and economic benefits in disadvantaged communities;
  • Broadened community engagement in local urban forest planning;
  • Improved resilience to climate change, pests, and storm events through best management and maintenance practices and;
  • Improve heat resiliency

In 2024, a pool of $100,000 will be available to communities with 8,000 or smaller populations—awards of $2,000 (minimum) to $25,000 (maximum). NFS intends to award all these funds in this round of funding. Another round of IRA funding through NFS isn't anticipated.

The deadline for application is May 15th, 2024.

Apply Here