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Trees and forestry

Trees and forests provide many benefits, including improving our air and water, making ourselves and our communities healthier, reducing the urban heat island effect, providing wildlife habitat, saving energy and increasing property values.

The tree canopy in Hennepin County faces a number of threats, including development, insects and diseases, climate extremes, and poor installation and maintenance.

The county has programs and resources available to help protect and enhance our tree canopy.

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Community Forestry Strategic Plan

The Hennepin County Community Forestry Strategic Plan (PDF) defines goals and objectives that the county’s forestry program will pursue from 2020 to 2025 to protect the county’s tree canopy and increase the benefits that trees provide.

The plan includes more than 50 strategies to achieve the following goals:

  • Plant, diversify, and maintain trees throughout Hennepin County
  • Increase the resiliency of Hennepin County’s community forest
  • Build organizational capacity to support, value, and maintain trees
  • Educate and engage residents to become stewards of the community forest

Together, the strategies outlined in this plan will build stronger internal and external partnerships, get more people involved in caring for trees, and increase awareness of the values of trees. They will also establish effective forestry policies, better prepare communities for current and future threats to trees, ensure trees are used to reduce disparities and respond to climate change, and capture success stories that inspire further action. Pursuing all these strategies will create a healthier and more resilient community forest and ensure more equitable opportunities for communities to experience the benefits that trees provide.

Developing the plan

The strategic plan was developed using a participatory planning process that incorporated feedback from both internal and external partners.

Through a series of workshops, county staff developed a vision for the future of the forestry program, recognized potential barriers, identified strategies, and drafted goals.

A meeting with external partners was held to gather feedback on the draft goals and strategies. The meeting had 40 participants representing forestry and public works programs in Hennepin County cities, past recipients of Heathy Tree Canopy grants, state and regional governmental agencies involved in natural resource management, the University of Minnesota, and local nonprofits involved in green space management and education. Key insights from those meetings were incorporated into the plan.

Implementing the plan

Hennepin County foresters are beginning to implement strategies identified in the plan as they carry out their 2021 work plan. The plan will be submitted to the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners for formal adoption along with the updated Natural Resources Strategic Plan later this year.

Hennepin County foresters are interested in discussing partnership opportunities that help meet the goals of the strategic plan or hearing any additional ideas you have. Connect with them by emailing

Community forestry progress report: 2021

Creating a community forestry program in the Environment and Energy Department was part of the county’s expanded role in natural resource conservation. The forestry program focuses on protecting the county’s tree canopy to increase the benefits that trees provide. Trees improve air quality by absorbing fine particulate matter and other pollutants and protect water by slowing down and infiltrating stormwater runoff. They also provide shade, reduce the urban heat island effect, lower stress, and increase property values.

Aspects of the county’s forestry program include growing healthy trees, partnering in large-scale planting events, managing threats to the tree canopy, raising awareness about tree pests and disease, educating the public on the benefits of trees and supporting partners through the Healthy Tree Canopy Grant program.

Hennepin County foresters were busy throughout 2021. Some highlights of the work that was accomplished includes:

  • Planted 570 gravel bed trees and shrubs throughout the county
  • Held a tree sale where residents purchased over 2,000 seedlings
  • The city of St. Anthony and Tree Trust Youth Build crews utilized a free application created by Hennepin County to collect tree inventory information. Data points were collected on 832 trees.
  • Monitored 685 trees by measuring width and determining growth and survival rates
  • Continued to update inventory of ash trees on county property. As of December 2021, there are 1,180 existing ash trees within the right-of-way along county roads
  • Planted 41 gravel bed trees along Portland Avenue in Minneapolis and Richfield
  • Conducted an inventory of diseased trees within rights-of-way along county roads and flagged 83 trees for removal during the 2021–2022 winter

Learn more in the 2021 Community forestry annual report (PDF).

Tree planting and care

Recommended tree list

Use the county's recommended tree list (XLSX) when developing a planting plan. The list includes a list of species and notes about their suitability for planting in various locations. A do-not-plant list is also included.

Terrestrial invasive species

There are many invasive plants of concern in Minnesota. Learn how to identify and prevent the spread of terrestrial invasive species. Learn more and access helpful resources about terrestrial invasive species on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.

Planting and tree care videos

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has produced helpful videos and resources for planting trees and caring for newly planted trees.

Get to know your neighborhood trees

Neighborhood tree bingo

Take a walk around your neighborhood or visit a local park and see how many of these common urban trees you can find on our Neighborhood Tree Bingo card.

Tree identification guides

Use these resources to help with tree identification:

Emerald ash borer, an invasive tree pest that attacks and kills ash trees, is the biggest current threat to our tree canopy. There are over 1 million ash trees in Hennepin County, and 100 percent of them are threatened by the emerald ash borer. Most residents live within 15 miles of an infested ash tree, which means you should be taking steps now to determine if you have ash trees on your property and how you are going to manage them.

Options for managing ash trees from the threat of emerald ash borer

Hennepin County has a number of resources to learn about emerald ash borer and options for managing ash trees:

Saving your mature ash trees

A healthy, mature ash tree may be worth saving, and treatment with an insecticide is an option to preserve ash trees of high value.

Watch "Protecting ash trees from the threat of emerald ash borer" (YouTube) to learn how to determine if your tree is worth saving and see how treatment works.

Spread the word

Use these resources to help spread the word about emerald ash borer and options for managing ash trees:

Hennepin County emerald ash borer plan

Learn more about the emerald ash tree in Hennepin County and the county's plans to address the tree pest in the Hennepin County tree canopy enhancement and emerald ash borer plan (PDF).

Hennepin County offers training classes and volunteer opportunities to learn about tree care, improve tree health in your community, and educate others about trees.

Community volunteer tree plantings

There are no community volunteer tree plantings scheduled at this time.

Tree steward classes

Tree steward classes cover the basics of tree biology, tree planting, watering, pruning, and tree health through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on, outdoor field experience. Classes are offered in partnership with the University of Minnesota and host cities.

After completing the class, volunteers have opportunities to help plant and care for trees with the county and partnering organizations.

Classes are open to the public, and no experience is needed. The University of Minnesota provides the necessary tools and safety equipment. Participants should dress appropriately for being outside.

Upcoming classes

There are no classes scheduled at this time.

Get notified of future classes

If you would like to be notified when the schedule and registration is available for future tree steward classes, contact Shane DeGroy at or 612-543-3697.

About the healthy tree canopy grants

Hennepin County has grants available to cities, affordable housing properties, schools, and non-profit organizations to enhance the county’s tree canopy.

The goals of the program are to combat threats to trees from invasive insects and disease by funding tree planting, educate the public on tree care and the importance of trees, and increase the diversity and resiliency of the tree canopy.

Types of grants available

Different types of grants are available to cities, affordable housing properties, and schools and non-profit organizations.

See the healthy tree canopy grants flyer (PDF) to learn more about the difference between the grant types.


For cities with no tree inventory or an incomplete tree inventory:

  • Grants are only to complete tree inventories.
  • Grants of $1,000 to $5,000 are available, and a 25% match is required.

For cities that have a completed tree inventory and a have a MN DNR certified tree inspector or an ISA-certified arborist under contract for the proposed grant project:

  • Grants are to implement tree plantings, maintain newly planted trees, remove and replace ash trees, conduct outreach, develop gravel-bed nurseries and develop tree management plans.
  • Grants of $10,000 to $50,000 are available, and a 25% match is required.

See the 2022 healthy tree canopy grant guidelines for cities (PDF) for more information.

Affordable housing

Grants are for removing ash trees and planting trees on affordable housing properties.

Grants are available to new and existing affordable housing properties. Eligible applicants include owners and managers of existing affordable multifamily housing, developers of new affordable multifamily housing, and affordable housing land trusts.

Grants of a minimum of $5,000 up to a maximum of $20,000 are available. A 25% match of the granted amount is required.

See the 2022 healthy tree canopy grant guidelines for affordable housing properties (PDF) for more information.


Grants are for tree plantings on school properties, tree-related education, tree inventories, ash tree removals, and Arbor Day celebrations.

Eligible applicants include administrators, teachers, principals, and facility managers of existing charter, private, and public schools in Hennepin County.

Grants of a minimum of $1,000 up to a maximum of $10,000 are available. A 25% match is required for ash tree removals. No match required for other expenses.

See the 2022 healthy tree canopy grant guidelines for schools (PDF) for more information.

Nonprofit organizations

Grants are for tree plantings on community properties, tree-related education, tree inventories, ash tree removals, and Arbor Day celebrations.

Eligible applicants include nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations in Hennepin County.

Grants of a minimum of $1,000 up to a maximum of $10,000 are available. A 25% match is required for ash tree removals. No match required for other expenses.

See the 2022 healthy tree canopy grant guidelines for nonprofit organizations (PDF) for more information.

How to apply

Applications for the 2022 round of Healthy tree canopy grants are currently being accepted and are due by Thursday, June 9, 2022.

To access the RFP and apply

  • Visit the Supplier Portal.
  • View the application materials by selecting the healthy tree canopy grant under events applicable to the your organization.
  • You need to be registered to submit an application. There has been an upgrade to the Supplier Portal, so all respondents will need to register or re-register. For detailed instructions on how to register and submit an application, including video tutorials and more, visit the Supplier Portal information page.

Contact us for help with your grant project

Hennepin County foresters are available to help you develop projects and answer any questions related to the grant and application process. Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the forestry team at before applying.

Helpful grant resources

The following resources will be helpful in completing your grant application.

Recommended tree list

Use the county's recommended tree list (XLSX) when developing a planting plan.

The list includes a list of species and notes about their suitability for planting in various locations. A do-not-plant list is also included.

Grant program updates

Sign up for the Canopy newsletter to get grant program updates.

GIS story map

Check out this GIS story map that highlights successful tree and natural resource grant-funded projects. Story maps are a GIS platform that connect places with project stories in a compelling, interactive, and easy-to-understand format. The map can be used to provide ideas and inspiration for future projects.

Healthy Tree Canopy grants awarded in 2022

In September 2022, the county board awarded 20 Healthy Tree Canopy grants totaling about $390,600. Grant projects will take place in seven cities, on four affordable housing properties, at two schools, and through six nonprofit organizations, including congregations and neighborhood associations. More than 435 trees will be planted through the grant projects.

The grants will:

  • Fund the collection of data through tree inventories, which is critical to increasing and diversifying the tree canopy and starting to respond to emerald ash borer.
  • Address the impacts of tree pests and pathogens by improving city forestry capacity and treating or replacing and replanting ash trees that are threatened by emerald ash borer. Grantees are required to plant at least one replacement tree for every ash tree removed.
  • Educate residents on the benefits of trees and engage them in tree planting efforts.
  • Improve livability and reduce disparities by planting trees in neighborhoods throughout the county experiencing disproportionate amounts of economic, environmental, and health inequities.
  • Protect people and increase the county’s resilience to climate change – important goals in the county’s Climate Action Plan – by increasing the benefits that trees provide. These benefits include capturing carbon, reducing air pollution, and taking up stormwater, and providing shade to counteract the urban heat island effect.

Grants awarded to cities

Grants to cities fund tree inventories, help mitigate the effects of tree pests and pathogens, increase the capacity of city forestry programs, educate residents on the benefits of trees and engage them in tree planting efforts, and improve livability by planting trees in neighborhoods that face economic, environmental, and health disparities.

Brooklyn Park

$50,000 to remove and replace 38 ash trees, stock gravel bed with bareroot trees, conduct EAB education, and hold volunteer tree planting events.


$25,630 to remove and replace 45 ash trees.


$50,000 to remove 15 ash trees and plant 45 replacement trees.

Eden Prairie

$40,093 to create education signage, remove and replace 60 ash trees.


$42,500 to create an urban forestry management plan and emerald ash borer management plan, treat ash trees, and plant trees via contractors and volunteers.

New Hope

$37,000 to purchase forestry equipment, remove and replace at least 20 ash trees.


$5,000 to complete a public tree inventory.

Grants awarded to affordable housing providers

Grants to affordable housing providers promote a more diverse, resilient, and equitable tree canopy by removing and replacing ash trees and planting new trees.


$20,000 to remove at least four ash trees and to plant 10 replacement trees in Richfield.

Boisclair Corporation

$17,980 to remove 16 ash trees at PennPlace in Bloomington and plant 16 replacement trees.

Cedar Riverside Limited Partnership

$11,930 to plant 24 trees to enhance a park-like greenspace at Cedar Riverside Apartments in Minneapolis, and support residents to maintain the trees.

Little Earth Residents Association Inc.

$11,650 to plant and maintain 10 trees in the Little Earth community in Minneapolis.

Grants awarded to nonprofit organizations and schools

Grants to nonprofit organizations and schools are used to engage communities in planting trees, remove and replace ash trees, conduct tree-related education, complete tree inventories, and hold Arbor Day celebrations.

The Blake School

$20,000 to remove 33 ash trees, treat 14 ash trees, and plant 34 replacement trees in two projects (Hopkins and Minneapolis campuses).

Dayton Community Foundation

$3,096 to hold an Arbor Day celebration event in the city of Dayton

FamilyWise Services

$6,380 to plant 10 trees in continuation of stormwater and raingarden infrastructure in Minneapolis.

Gethsemane Lutheran Church

$9,341 to remove four ash trees and plant 6 replacement trees in Hopkins.

Special School District 1

$10,000 to plant 50 trees across six different Minneapolis school properties.

Tree Trust

$10,000 to hold a series of educational tree events across Hennepin County.

Vibrant and Safe Downtown

$10,000 to plant 30 trees in Minneapolis, conduct outreach and engagement, and create an educational video about the project.

YMCA of the North

$10,000 to engage with campers and plant trees to diversify the tree canopy on its campgrounds in Minnetrista and Loretto.

Hennepin County plants and maintains trees on sites throughout the county in partnership with cities, libraries, community organization and schools. Planting projects include along county roadways, at county libraries and facilities, at schools and parks, and in natural areas and conservation easements.

Gravel-bed nursery

Most of the trees the county plants come from the county's gravel-bed nursery, located at the Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility in Plymouth. The gravel-bed nursery gives the county access to hardy, diverse and cost-effective trees for use on county projects and properties.

Every spring, 1,000 young saplings of a variety of species are purchased from commercial nurseries and planted in the gravel-bed. The trees grow and develop a good root structure throughout the summer, and are ready to be transplanted in the fall.

Compared to conventional nursery trees, the gravel-bed nursery gives the county access to a wider diversity of tree species, produces trees that have a good survival rate, and allows the county to plant trees in a more cost-effective manner. The gravel-bed nursery is also helping the county proactively replace ash trees that will ultimately be infested with the emerald ash borer.

Planting projects

Trees from the gravel-bed nursery are transplanted to a variety of county projects and properties.

Examples of planting projects that the county has or is working on include:

  • Arbor Day plantings at various locations
  • Community locations, including along the Midtown Greenway, at schools and in parks
  • Hennepin County facilities and libraries
  • Restoration projects in natural areas and conservation easements
  • Transportation and transit corridors

Assistance available

If you are looking for assistance with a planting project or are interested in installing a gravel-bed nursery, contact Dustin Ellis at or 612-348-2259.

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