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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Grants to improve the tree canopy

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.

Cities

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 2020 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 2020 healthy tree canopy grant guidelines for affordable housing properties (PDF) for more information.

Schools

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 2020 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 2020 healthy tree canopy grant guidelines for nonprofit organizations (PDF) for more information.

How to apply

Applications for 2020 healthy tree canopy grants are due by 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 18.

Applicants are encouraged to register and submit their applications in advance of the due date.

To access the RFP and apply:

  • Visit the Supplier Portal.
  • Under events, view the application materials by selecting the healthy tree canopy grant applicable to your organization type.
  • You need to be registered to submit an application. 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 trees@hennepin.us before applying.

Helpful grant resources

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

Tree planting priority areas map

The county’s tree planting priorities map factors in both environmental and demographic data. The map uses land cover data and disparity data such as income, housing, and health to understand areas that have lower tree canopy and higher need.

Grant selection will be based, in part, on a comparison of the project locations with the identified priority planting areas.

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.

Recently awarded healthy tree canopy grants

Healthy Tree Canopy grants awarded in 2020

In September 2020, the county awarded 20 Healthy Tree Canopy grants totaling $378,980. The grants will help combat threats to trees from invasive insects and diseases, promote the development of a more diverse, resilient, and equitable tree canopy, and support efforts to educate the public on tree care and the importance of trees.

Increasing the benefits that trees provide

More than 1,000 trees will be planted through the grant projects, increasing the benefits that trees provide throughout the county. Trees improve air quality by absorbing fine particulate matter and other pollutants, and they slow down stormwater runoff. Trees also provide shade, reduce the urban heat island effect, reduce stress, and increase property values.

Prioritizing grants that help address disparities

The tree grants will improve livability by planting trees in neighborhoods throughout the county experiencing disproportionate amounts of economic, environmental, and health disparities. Grants were selected in part using the county’s tree planting prioritization map, which factors in both environmental and demographic data to identify areas that have lower tree canopy and higher need. 

Eight of the twelve grants awarded affordable housing providers, nonprofit organizations, and schools are in high priority areas. Six of the eight cities recommended for grants are entirely within moderate and high priority planting areas or contain canopy deficient areas.

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 complete tree planting plans in 30 parks and host four community tree planting events in parks.

Champlin

$18,694 to establish a gravel bed nursery and plant 30 trees, and treat high-quality ash trees along various greenway parkways.

Eden Prairie

$50,000 to remove large ash trees, treat high quality ash trees, and plant 325 trees in parks and rights-of-way with a focus on increasing species diversity.

Edina

$47,976 to inventory all trees in 45 parks and open spaces.

Minnetonka Beach

$37,483 to inventory trees in additional public spaces, develop a tree management program, continue ash tree removal and treatment of high-quality ash trees, and plant replacement trees of a variety of species.

Orono

$5,000 to inventory trees within the city's rights-of-way.

St. Anthony Village

$5,000 to inventory trees in all public spaces including rights-of-way, public spaces, and city-owned properties.

Tonka Bay

$20,000 to remove hazardous ash trees and replace them with new, diverse tree species.

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.

Aeon

$19,533 to remove and replace 17 ash trees and treat an additional 30 ash trees at Huntington Place Apartments in Brooklyn Park.

$20,000 to plant 169 trees at SoLo Apartments in Bloomington.

Amorce I Limited Partnership

$20,000 to remove 16 ash trees at Brooks Landing Apartments and Brooks Garden Apartments in Brooklyn Park and replace them with 26 diverse new trees.

Autumn Ridge Apartments

$20,000 to remove 16 ash trees at Autumn Ridge Apartments in Brooklyn Park and replace them with a more sustainable tree canopy.

City of Edina

$13,160 to remove four ash trees on a future affordable housing site and plant 20 trees after construction of the building.

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.

Brooklyn Center ISD 286 

$3,480 to establish a fruit tree orchard at Earle Brown Elementary STEAM school, develop associated curriculum, and engage families. 

Church of St. Helena in Minneapolis

$3,343 to remove two ash trees and replace them with new, diverse trees. 

Together Bloomington

$9,255 to plant up to 40 trees on City of Bloomington properties with community members as part of a community led and designed project. 

Faith United Methodist in St. Anthony Village

$6,388 to remove two ash trees and replant 16 trees throughout the property.

Project Sweetie Pie in Minneapolis

$10,000 to plant fruit trees on a vacant lot in north Minneapolis. The project will engage community members and youth with planning, outreach, education, planting, and maintenance. 

Rockford High School 

$9,946 to create an arboretum on school property. The project will involve planting 111 diverse trees and integrating tree-related education into the curriculum. 

Success Academy in Bloomington

$9,722 to remove eight ash trees on school property and replace with more diverse tree species, develop associated curriculum, and engage families.

 

Tree care tips and identification resources

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. Download a PDF or JPG.

Tree identification guides

Use these resources to help with tree identification:

Tree care tips

Spring tree care videos

Hennepin County forester, Dustin Ellis, shared spring tree care tips from his backyard.

First up: removing the bark protection from young trees. This is important to help young trees grow because they can actually photosynthesize through their bark! He also explains how to assess rabbit damage. Watch here.

Next: tips for pruning trees and shrubs that have experienced significant damage from rabbits. Also advice on proper mulching. Mulch helps protect roots and retain water in the soil surrounding the tree, but you want to make sure to create a “donut” around the step so you don’t damage the tree. Watch here.

Tree planting and care

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

Education and volunteer opportunities

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 shane.degroy@hennepin.us or 612-543-3697.

Tree planting and reforestation

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 dustin.ellis@hennepin.us or 612-348-2259.

Emerald ash borer

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 the following resources to learn about emerald ash borer and options for managing ash trees:

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).

Canopy forestry updates newsletter

Canopy is a quarterly newsletter to share updates and news about trees and forestry in Hennepin County. This newsletter is intended to be a collaborative effort to share news, upcoming events, and resources.

Sign up to receive the Canopy newsletter.

Latest editions

Fall 2020

  • 20 Healthy Tree Canopy grants awarded
  • Gravel-bed tree nursery upgraded
  • Virtual conference: Partners in Community Forestry
  • Fall feature: Get to know your neighborhood trees with tree bingo
  • Green Minneapolis puts on downtown tree scavenger hunt

Spring 2020

Fall 2019

  • Tree plantings help create a more diverse and resilient urban forest 
  • Healthy Tree Canopy Grants awarded to to 14 cities, applications for schools, nonprofits, and affordable housing properties due October 28
  • Fall planting projects

Summer 2019

  • Grants available to protect and plant trees
  • Fall tree steward classes

Spring 2019

  • Healthy tree canopy grants available: funding available for tree plantings, ash tree removals, tree inventories, outreach and more
  • Deciding how to manage ash trees from the threat of emerald ash borer: new resources available to understand options for ash trees
  • Volunteers help plant trees on Hiawatha

Winter 2019

  • Healthy tree canopy grants awarded, project will focus on reducing disparities
  • Tree steward class offered in Plymouth in April
 

Contribute to future editions

If you are interested in contributing, please send updates to Jen Kullgren at jen.kullgren@hennepin.us.

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