Shade tree program bonding grants, 2021-2024

ash tree showing signs of EAB with newly planing seeding on either side

Eligible Applicants:

All cities, counties, and townships, as well as park and recreation boards in cities of the first class, are eligible to apply.

Priority will be given to:

  • Applicants with a known emerald ash borer infestation within their boundaries for removal and replacement of ash trees
  • Projects removing and replacing ash trees that pose significant public safety concerns
  • Projects that benefit underserved populations and areas of concern for environmental justice

Eligible Activities:

  • Removal and replanting of shade trees on public land to provide environmental benefits;
  • Replacement of trees on public land lost to forest pests, disease, or storm;
  • Tree planting on public land to establish a more diverse community forest better able to withstand disease and forest pests

Any tree planted with this grant must be a climate-adapted species to Minnesota.

Project Timeline:

  • Application Available: Monday, February 1, 2021
  • Application Deadline: Monday, March 22, 2021

How to Apply

  1. Thoroughly read through the Request for Applications
  2. Download and complete the Application
  3. Download and fill out the Attachment A Budget Form
  4. Download and fill out the Attachment B 3-Year Tree Maintenance Plan
  5. Provide a Species and Stock List from which trees will be planted - must be climate-adapted species to Minnesota

Application Procedures:

After reading through the Request for Applications, complete all parts of the application. Email completed application to [email protected] (only emailed applications will be accepted). Applications must be received by Monday, March 22, 2021 to be considered eligible for funding.

Selection Process:

DNR's Urban & Community Forestry Team will review and evaluate grant applications, and prioritize proposals. The UCF Grants Steering Committee will recommend projects and award amounts. DNR will review all committee recommendations and is responsible for final award decisions. Grantees will be notified by Monday, April 12, 2021.

Helpful Guidance

Community forestry examples and resources for managing emerald ash borer, Webex recording from a Minnesota Department of Agriculture webinar on December 10, 2020,

FAQs:

FAQs will be updated weekly with questions received through March 12, 2021. Direct questions to [email protected].

Assuming we receive funding, our planting may be done over two years. Are we allowed to submit multiple years under the "Year and season of plantings" question in the 3-Year Tree Maintenance Plan, or does all of the planting through this grant need to be done in one year?

Multiple years are eligible for planting, as long as the work is finished by the end of the grant program. Include all appropriate information in the Tree Maintenance Plan.

Q: The application states that only climate-adapted species to Minnesota can be planted if we receive funding through the program. Is there one specific source where I can find a list of tree species that are considered "climate-adapted?"

Refer to the University of Minnesota's Extension page on Recommended Trees for Minnesota for a comprehensive list, understanding that it is a bit out of date. There is at least one species on these lists that is prohibited from planting as a part of this grant- Amur corktree. Note that these lists do provide guidance on street use and under utility line use.

Additional references

Q: If our overall project is larger than the DNR grant fund maximum, do we indicate the replanting species list, number, location, etc. for the portion we are requesting grant funds for, or the entire project?

Please clearly demonstrate the portion that will be related to grant funds in detail. You are not required to share detailed information on trees to be planted with match funds, since match is not required, but you are welcome to do so if you choose. If you do include match funds, you will be required to report on them, and will need to show that all match has been spent before the project is finished.

Q: On the application, a question asks if we have received bond funds in the past. We have a project awarded bond funds in October 2020. We are still in the process of working on a grant agreement and have not received the funds yet. How should we answer that question, yes or no?

Please check the 'no' box.

Q: Why are you requiring #20 containerized stock and not allowing balled and burlap trees? If the cost is the same, can we spend the money on balled and burlap trees instead of containerized trees?

In previous grant opportunities we allowed reimbursement of up to #15 containerized or 1-2" bareroot trees; we have increased reimbursement in this opportunity up to #20 containerized after receiving feedback that some communities were unable to purchase their desired/planned species in #15 stock.

Balled and burlap stock is not eligible for reimbursement in this grant program, due to the additional care and skill often needed to properly plant balled and burlap trees. This is especially the case when trees are sold with excessive soil over the root collar flare; stem girdling roots may be present and trees may be planted too deeply. While this may be mitigated in your community by knowledge and proper planting techniques, it may not be the case for other communities across the state. Since a primary goal of our tree planting grant program is to see trees planted with our funds alive and well into the future, we have made the decision to not reimburse for balled and burlap stock.

Q: I manage a homeowners association. We wanted to reach out to see if Homeowners Associations are eligible to apply for this grant.

All applications for this grant program must come from a local unit of government. I recommend reaching out to your municipality if you are looking to propose a project.

Q: I didn't see a spot to put in-kind time for volunteers in this project. I decided to add a row to the Budget spreadsheet showing the anticipated value of the time volunteers would spend on the effort. Is this okay? Thanks!

You are free to add additional lines as needed. There is some nuance regarding including volunteer labor as in-kind match. Volunteer services furnished by professional and technical personnel, consultants, and other skilled and unskilled labor may be counted as cost sharing or matching if the service is an integral and necessary part of an approved project or program, and if the labor would have to be paid for if not donated.

Q: Can this grant help us start a tree inventory?

No, tree inventories are not an eligiable expense through this program

Q: Could labor expenses from State sources (such as MN Department of Corrections – Institution Community Work Crews and Conservation Corps of Minnesota & Iowa) be eligible for reimbursement under this grant?

All contracted labor is eligible for reimbursement (including ICWC and CCMI), provided that the professional contracts for technical assistance or project implementation are with individuals or organizations not a part of your local government unit.

Q: If we paid for the materials and completed the construction of a gravel bed, would the purchase of bare root trees be eligible under the grant?

Yes, 1-2" caliper bareroot trees are eligible expenses through this grant program (see Additional Criteria portion of the Request for Applications).

Q: Can my city apply for this grant if we have no current inventory and no EAB plan in place?

Yes, those are not required to apply for this grant program.

Q: I would like to get a Species and Stock List for selecting trees that meet the Shade Tree Program Bonding grant criteria.

The species and stock list must come from you, the applicant. The 2010 rapid assessment can be used as guidance for what to avoid planting if you do not possess a current tree inventory, and the guidelines in the RFA will let you know what stock you can select from in order to be eligible for reimbursement. If you have not developed a species/stock list and would like guidance, reach out and the UCF Team can provide you with examples.

Q: Our intention is to replant new tree plantings at the same address where we removed them. However, due to potential underground utilities, we may be limited in where we can plant new trees. We will most certainly replant one tree for each tree removed, but is it okay to deviate slightly in the replanting locations if needed? We would note any deviations in our reporting.

Yes, that is acceptable and understandable. As long as the effort is made to replant in the same spot, notes and maps will be sufficient if replanting locations need to be altered.

Q: We will be submitting our list of planned tree species for replanting, including the number of each. If we need to change the species for whatever reason, is that acceptable as long as the species is approved by the DNR?

Yes. If changes need to be made, they can be run past the project coordinator, and when approved, an updated list can be provided to DNR.

Q: I see that matching funds are not required. Does providing matching funds - whether in-kind or cash - improve the scoring of the grant application?

While matching funds are not a specific scored component of the application, and no matching funds are required, a commitment to the project through the inclusion of match funds may be reflected by grant reviewers in the criteria 'Community has a readiness to take on a project of the proposed scope and size' or within the Project Budget criteria.

Q: Can you send me an updated link to the answers to the other questions submitted to the program? The link from the RFA says "Page Not Found".

We apologize for the incorrect link; it has been updated. All questions asked and answered so far appear at the bottom of the grant website.

Q: What types of intermediate steps and milestones is the application timeline asking for? Would milestones regarding the number of trees removed and replaced be preferred or is there a better metric that should be used?

Regarding intermediate steps and milestones, following the timeline scoring criteria. Application timelines should provide specific dates for all activities, and should be easy to read and comprehend. The suggested metrics (number of trees removed, number of trees planted) sound specific and appropriate.

Q: Should the timeline include when reports will be submitted to the Department of Natural Resources?

Report dates are appropriate information to include in a proposed timeline.

Q: Can a proposed project seek to just plant trees in anticipation of future removals, or is the immediate removal and replacement of ash trees required to receive the grant?

This is an acceptable proposed project for this grant program, as standalone "tree planting [projects] on public land to establish a more diverse community forest better able to withstand disease and forest pests" are eligible for funding.

Q: Is this grant really only available to first class cities (Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, St. Cloud)?

No, All cities, and counties, and townships, and park and recreation boards in cities of the first class are eligible to apply.

On the DNR website I saw that preference will be given to communities that already have EAB. Does this mean that since EAB has not been found in our community we likely wouldn't be awarded any funding if we did submit an application?

Each application will be reviewed on a 100-point scale. A known emerald ash borer infestation within the applicant's boundaries will be worth 5 points. This leaves 95 points that a community without EAB could earn, suggesting that an application from that community can still be competitive if thorough and well-written.

Q: My city doesn't have any staff with "a degree in a related field" or applicable certifications. Do you still want to know our educational backgrounds?

Yes. Listing all degrees and certifications, even if they do not directly relate to the project, will demonstrate comprehension of the question. As with all parts of the application, strive to provide a complete and thoughtful answer to meet the scoring criteria as best as you are able.

What are climate-adapted species to Minnesota?

These include trees that are native to Minnesota, as well as trees that are regionally native, and climate-adapted. Trees that are native to neighboring states, and are now able to thrive in Minnesota due to changes in hardiness growing zones, are eligible to plant through this grant. Trees listed on the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants webpage (including Amur cork tree, Amur maple, autumn olive, black locust, buckthorn, Norway maple, Russian olive, Siberian elm, and tree of heaven) are ineligible for reimbursement and are not recommended for planting.

Q: Are staff time and chemical purchases considered eligible for cash match or in kind match? I understand that these two items cannot be used for requested funding, but wanted to make sure they are appropriate for match purposes.

While they are not eligible for reimbursement, staff time and chemical purchases are an appropriate use of match funds, if used for the overall grant project. You could list both as in-kind match, unless you have a staff salary solely dedicated to the project, or if the chemicals are purchased and applied by a contractor (in which case, they would be cash match). More on appropriate allocation of match funding is listed in the following paragraph.

A cash match is a direct project expense that a local unit of government (LUG) provides as contribution to a project – the cash expenditures for costs related to the specific project. This can include project-related staff salaries if they are DEDICATED to the project, consultant's fees or contractor expenses, equipment rentals and travel costs. In-kind match are materials and services, salaries and wages (including fringe benefits) being used that are not solely project-dedicated, space or utilities, equipment and/or technical assistance provided by the LUG or donated by a third party specifically for the project.

Q: For our program, we hope to replace ash that were lost in the public boulevard space as well as park land. We have no issue with filing a declaration on the public park lands. Would this declaration be required on the boulevard space as well?

Please refer to the subsequent paragraph from the RFA regarding boulevard trees:

For projects or portions of projects that lie within roads, highways or utility or transit corridors, easements or rights-of-way, a certification in which the grantee acknowledges that the property purchased and/or improved is still state bond financed property and thus subject to certain statutory requirements will suffice in lieu of a declaration.

If a project includes both park and boulevard trees, a declaration will be needed for the park component, and a certification will suffice for the boulevard trees. The certification will be filled out and submitted to DNR. For a Certification, the "General Description of Restricted Property" need not be formal. It can be as simple as:

  • A map with the streets highlighted where funds were or will be used, or
  • A list / text description, e.g., Elm St between 3rd St and 8th St, or the 300 to 110 blocks of Maple Ave.

Q: Can you direct me to the 2010 community tree survey for my city?

Please email [email protected] and we will send you the 2010 rapid assessment for your community.

Q: Is it appropriate to include maps in our application if we think it would better explain our project area or priority populations?
You are welcome to include maps. If you include attachments with your application, please reference them within the application, and explain why they have been included in order to be considered part of the submission.