Millions of dollars coming to Iowa to help make it greener

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 10:03 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The former governor of Iowa and current Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack came to Cedar Rapids on Thursday with a message about green. That green, which is $1 billion in funding, will go toward green projects across the U.S. That green involves planting and maintaining trees.

“Iowa, as a state, and communities within Iowa, in addition to the resources provided to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, benefits and resources and grants will be awarded today (Thursday) in addition to Cedar Rapids which is receiving 6 million dollars which is the largest Iowa grant,” said Vilsack.

In total, Iowa cities and towns will split about $15 million in grants to grown green spaces.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service awarded the competitive grants. It comes from the Justice40 Initiative, which is part of President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. The goal is to not only improve access to nature across the country, but also combat climate change and heat.

“But for far too long, we know that many communities have lacked access to trees and to nature,” said Brenda Mallory, the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “And that many of those communities are also suffering disproportionately from extreme heat, pollution, and other forms of under-investment.”

Of the $15 million to Iowa, about $3 million will go directly to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which will act as a starting point for the efforts to rebuild and expand Iowa’s tree canopy.

“Historically, our state’s struggled with low canopy cover, averaging about 18% in most of our communities,” said Jeff Goerndt, the State Forester and Director. “And we think that’s been reduced to somewhere around 12% or even lower, making it one of the lowest in the nation. “

Cities chosen for the grants are working to increase their access to nature, as well as looking for the benefits they can provide like keeping areas cool, making air quality better. Grant organizers also say they can help promote food security and public health and safety.