Volume 23, Number 2
Partners for Places: A Green Infrastructure Grant
By Tom Ebeling| Forest ReLeaf of Missouri
In 2018 the City of St. Louis and several partners were awarded a grant by The Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities.
The goal of the grant was planting trees to manage stormwater, enhance tree canopy, reduce the urban heat island impact and strengthen community relations.
The grant also helped to fund Forest ReLeaf of Missouri's Tree Tender community forestry youth employment pilot program.
The grant partners included City of St. Louis Office of Sustainability, Department of Public Safety, Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, The Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis Youth Jobs and Forest ReLeaf of Missouri.
While the Office of Sustainability secured the grant and assembled the team of partners, Forest ReLeaf served as the project coordinator once the grant was awarded.
In the spring and fall of 2018, planting projects took place in four city parks, where a total of 500 Missouri native trees and shrubs were planted.
Besides increasing the urban canopy in high need areas, a goal of the projects was to build community ties by having citizens plant trees alongside first responders from the St. Louis Fire Department and Police Department.
At all of the projects, police could be seen distributing water, picking up trash and chatting with people from the neighborhood while firefighters planted trees and generated attention with their trucks and safety demonstrations.
In the spring, 50 trees were planted at the Minnie Wood Park and 100 trees were planted at Barrett Brothers Park.
In the fall, 100 trees were planted at Marquette Park and 250 trees were planted at Fairground Park. The planting project locations were selected based on 5 criteria: incidence of crime, youth density, park access needs, stormwater priority area, and tree canopy needs.
The parks selected had high needs for all 5 criteria, which allowed the projects to have the largest possible impact.
In the summer of 2018, Forest ReLeaf of Missouri was also able to hire six St. Louis city youth for their Tree Tenders pilot program thanks to funding from the Places for People grant. The goal of the Tree Tenders program was to introduce youth from underserved areas to careers in urban forestry, conservation and the green industry while also caring for some of the planting projects funded by the Places for People Grant.
The Missouri Botanical Garden was instrumental in helping Forest ReLeaf develop this new program. The Tree Tenders spent last summer maintaining the trees planted during the spring projects, conducting invasive species control, cleaning up parks and working closely with urban forestry professionals to learn about environmental stewardship and the green industry.
In addition, they received some basic skills training from St. Louis Youth Jobs, such as personal finance and professionalism. The youth were supervised by a Forest ReLeaf intern, which served as a capstone project for a senior at MU majoring in urban forestry.
Forest ReLeaf also participates in the St. Louis Green Teen Alliance, which serves as a clearinghouse for data collection and provides opportunities for youth to learn about careers in green industry; see stlgreenteens.org for details.
Sustainable funding for the summer youth Tree Tenders program is actively being sought at this time. For more information, contact email@example.com.