Improving Community Forests Through Citizen Engagement



Grants will be made to enable communities to increase their capacity to manage their community forest by creating or expanding their "volunteer-base" community forestry activities such as:

  • Recruiting and training citizen volunteers.
  • Updating or developing tree inventories or surveys, both private and public trees.
  • Developing a citywide urban forestry plan.
  • Creating and maintaining tree gravel beds.
  • Planting, watering, and pruning new public trees.
  • Conducting early detection of tree pests, both private and public trees.

Grantees will be provided technical and educational support to mobilize a citizen volunteer program that will protect, improve, and maintain their community forest.


Eligible Applicants

  • Political subdivisions of Minnesota such as cities, towns, or counties
  • Park & Recreation Boards
  • Non-government organizations

Application Procedures

  • Fill out application—attachments will not be considered during the review and selection process.
  • Applications must be signed by authorized personnel.
  • Certify mail original application and two copies to: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Attn: Jennifer Teegarden, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4044.
  • Applications hand-delivered or sent by fax or email will not be accepted.
  • Applications must be postmarked on or before Monday, February 8, 2016.
  • Applications postmarked after Monday, February 8, 2016, will not be considered.

Grant Information

  • Grants will range from $30,000 to $50,000 per grant.
  • Between eight and 12 grants will be awarded, depending on the size and scope of proposed projects and number of applicants.
  • Grantees must provide a match of not less than 25 percent, of which half can be in-kind support.
  • Grants are not provided up front. Grantees initially expend monies and are reimbursed up to two times a year.
  • Eligible expenses for grant funds:
    • Professional contracts for technical assistance, project administration, or implementation.
    • Total equipment purchases under $5,000 that are used to complete project.
    • Software purchase.
    • Equipment rental.
    • Purchase of trees.
    • Planting (including mulch, watering bags, staking materials, and tree wrap or guards).
    • Materials for constructing Community Tree Gravel Beds.
    • Production of materials used to enlist citizen involvement or educate developers, builders, residents, and community decision makers about urban and community forest resources.
    • Education and outreach programs and materials.
  • Ineligible expenses for grant funds:
    • Project personnel time of public employees.
    • Total equipment purchase over $5,000.
    • Purchase of plants other than trees such as shrubs, living ground covers, sod grass seed, and flowers.
    • Paying contractors to plant or prune trees.
    • Paying contractors to conduct a tree inventory.
    • Purchase of land or easement.
    • Experimental practices not approved by the DNR Project Technical Team.
    • Major soil and grade changes or construction.
    • Pheromone trapping.

Evaluation Criteria

Awarding grants to applicants will be based on:

  • Demonstrated need for financial and technical assistance.
  • Local forestry needs.
  • Public health priorities.
  • Populations that will be affected by project (vulnerable and underrepresented populations).
  • Readiness to take on project.
  • Ability to provide required match.
  • Commitment to sustaining group of volunteers to address local community forestry needs.
  • Potential impact of project on community's urban forestry program.

Award of Funds

Announcement of the funding proposal will follow the review and selection process. All proposals will be reviewed by DNR Forestry staff. Final selection of projects and award amounts will be determined by the Improving Community Forests Grant Review Committee.

  • All applicants will receive written notification regarding their request by February 19, 2016.
  • Projects cannot begin until all final documentation has been submitted and a grant agreement has been executed.
  • Any project costs incurred prior to the execution of the grant agreement will not be eligible for reimbursement.
  • Grant funds are not provided up front.
  • Grantees must initially expend monies, which are then reimbursed under the terms of the grant agreement, and can receive partial payments of up to 90 percent of the grant funds awarded. The remaining 10 percent or more of the grant funds will be paid after completion of the final report.

Project Timeline

  • Deadline for DNR to receive applications: postmarked on or before Monday, February 8, 2016
  • Written notice of selection and award amount: by Friday, February 19, 2016
  • Project authorization: February 2016 to March 2016
    • A grant agreement will be sent for the applicant to review and sign.
    • Three copies of the signature page must be returned to the DNR for execution.
    • Any work started before the grantee receives their fully executed grant agreement will not be eligible for reimbursement.
  • Written notice of fully executed contract on file with the DNR: March 2016
  • Project implementation: March 2016 to April 2018
  • Project partial payment, final report, and compliance check:
    • If a partial payment is needed, grantee must submit Partial Payment & Invoice Form to the DNR. DNR conducts compliance of project before approving partial payment.
    • Upon completion of the project, grantee must submit Final Report & Invoice Form and all required documents to DNR. DNR conducts compliance check of final project.
    • Approval for final payment made upon completion of compliance check and submission of all required documents.
  • Project completion: final reports must be submitted by Tuesday, May 1, 2018


Program Funding

Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

The trust fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by Minnesotans to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation and enhancement of the state's air, water, land, fish, wildlife and other natural resources.