OEI awarded FY 2021 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant from the USDA Forest Service!


OEI was recently awarded with a FY 2021 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant from the USDA Forest Service, Eastern Region State and Private Forestry, for its project “Reducing Runoff in a Polluted Urban Watershed Using Green Infrastructure.” OEI is proud to be a part of this competitive GLRI grants program, which collectively across all FY 2021 projects, expects to:

  • Plant more than 118,000 trees and shrubs in urban and rural landscapes
  • Mitigate invasive insect and disease species impacts on over 1,200 acres through reforestation with non-host tree species or treatment of vulnerable trees
  • Support 10 locally-led projects to recover from emerald ash borer impacts, particularly in under-resourced communities
  • Intercept an estimated 9 million gallons of stormwater annually through eight green infrastructure projects involving trees
  • Restore 1,500 acres of coastal, riparian and shoreline habitats, enhancing resilience to climate change and other ecosystem stressors
  • Help local partnerships manage invasive plant infestations by treating over 1,800 acres and surveying 50,000 acres
  • Reach over 16,000 youth and adults in education, training and stewardship activities
  • Engage volunteers in an estimated 19,000 hours of service that contribute to project success

OEI’s grant specifically aims to:

  • Reduce polluted urban runoff,
  • Enhance climate resiliency,
  • Restore a native, urban canopy,
  • Revitalize green space,
  • Build capacity for long-term stewardship & maintenance,
  • Engage families and youth in ecologically meaningful and community-driven ways that foster sense of place in a disconnected and overlooked watershed,
  • Contribute to the estimated capture of 147,000 gallons of runoff each year, and
  • Increase canopy >25%, with a target minimum canopy coverage of 75% in project areas.

The grant got underway in the spring.

  • An advisory committee was established in June 2022 that includes representatives from the Town of DeWitt (ToD) Parks Department, ToD Highway Department, ToD Tree Committee, Onondaga Earth Corps, Onondaga County Soil & Water Conservation District, National Grid, and East Syracuse Minoa (ESM) Central School District.
    • A kick-off meeting was held in June 2022 at one of the project’s restoration sites, Maxwell Park, to evaluate site conditions and collaboratively consider tree planting plans.
  • A meeting with two teachers from ESM district was held in September to facilitate student involvement in the project.
  • Maxwell Park:
    • Soil samples were collected to evaluate subsurface conditions, including soil composition and soil pH, in order to select tree species most suitable to existing conditions, as well as evaluate what amendments, if any, may be needed to ensure high rates of tree survival.
    • Preliminary work on a tree planting plan has begun.
    • An ESM Senior has signed up to do her in-depth environmental project on developing and engaging the community in the snacking arboretum planned for Maxwell Park.
  • Carrier Park:
    • Collaboration with the ToD to survey existing site conditions has helped to evaluate and strategize site preparation ahead of spring 2023 tree planting, including the removal of dead-standing trees, as well as maintenance of existing trees.
      • A volunteer mulching event is tentatively scheduled for October 2022 that will include youth from the ToD recreation group, the ToD Tree Committee, the ToD Highway Department, and volunteers from the community.

We are grateful to, and look forward to working with, the USDA Forest Service, Eastern Region State and Private Forestry on this great project!


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