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

Affordable housing

Grants are for ash tree removals and planting replacement 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 healthy tree canopy grant guidelines for affordable housing properties (PDF) for more information.

Schools and nonprofit organizations

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

Eligible applications include charter, private, and public schools in Hennepin County. Eligible applicants include administrators, teachers, principals, and facility managers of existing schools. Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations are also eligible to apply.

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

How to apply

Applications materials may be accessed and must be submitted through the online Supplier Portal.

Applications for affordable housing properties, schools, and nonprofit organizations are due by 3 p.m. on Monday, October 28. Applications for cities are no longer being accepted. 

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 your organization.

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.

Grants for cities

In February 2019, the county awarded 27 grants totaling more than $250,000. The grants will not only invest in the county's tree canopy, but also the health and economic vitality of communities.

The following cities were awarded funding to start or complete an inventory of public trees, a step that can help with tree planning, planting, removal, and maintenance:

Hopkins

$5,000 to perform a public tree inventory that will include all species in the central Hopkins residential area and an ash tree inventory in all other areas of the city

Orono

$5,000 to inventory all trees within city parks managed by the city

Osseo

$4,000 to collect data on all trees located within the city's right-of-way and on public property

St. Bonifacius

$3,750 to inventory all ash trees within city limits

Tonka Bay

$2,000 to gather tree information on all public lands within its jurisdiction 

The following cities with existing tree inventory data were awarded funding for projects to improve their tree canopies:

Brooklyn Park

$33,462 to update their tree inventory to determine locations of ash trees, develop boulevard tree replacement plan, plant 40 trees in Hamilton Park with volunteers, create a new gravel-bed nursery, and fund staff training

Champlin

$9,996 to plant trees in medians at the Elm Creek Parkway and Goose Lake Parkway intersection and along Jefferson Highway. The trees will replace ash trees that were removed.

Eden Prairie

$30,517 to purchase about 300 trees to replace ash trees, treat 375 high quality ash trees, and assist in the removal of 279 public ash trees by funding stump removal equipment.

Robbinsdale

$14,000 to update the existing citywide public tree inventory that includes all public trees (streets, landscapes and parks) as well as trees along Hennepin County Road 81. The updated data will help the city more successfully manage a community forest of approximately 5,000 trees

St. Louis Park

$10,000 to plant 70 trees in Aquila Park with volunteers. The tree planting will be a component of a larger community Arbor Day celebration.

Grants awarded to affordable housing projects

The following organizations will use funding to plant trees on their property and proactively manage ash trees:

City of Edina

$12,400 to work in partnership with three land trust homeowners to remove five large ash trees on West Hennepin Affordable Land Trust-owned lots. Five trees will be planted in their place.

City of Lakes Community Land Trust (Minneapolis)

$19,200 to increase tree species diversity through its current and future single-family home rehab and new construction projects (12 projects in progress currently). The land trust will also engage the community through tree planting events.

Newport Midwest – The Mariner (Minnetonka)

$20,000 to plant 23 trees around the building of a new mixed-income housing development adjacent to Southwest Light Rail Transit Opus Station Stop in Minnetonka. The trees will provide more green space and go above and beyond the city requirements.

RLBC Franklin Station, LLC on behalf of Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians (Minneapolis)

$20,000 to plant 27 trees to add aesthetic and environmental benefits to the existing site and provide a buffer between the Hiawatha Light Rail line and the development. This is a new, 109-unit, 100 percent affordable housing development in south Minneapolis.

Twin Cities Housing Development Corporation (Minneapolis)

$20,000 to remove and replace ash trees with other species that will thrive in the urban environment at Seven Spruce and Phillips Place, two older affordable housing developments in south Minneapolis. Both sites have large ash trees that have shown signs of emerald ash borer damage.

Grants awarded to schools and nonprofit organizations

The following organizations will engage youth in learning about and planting trees:

Lucy Craft Laney School (Minneapolis)

$4,994 to plant trees to replace ash trees and provide shade near the playground

Orono High School

$2,500 for the high school biology class to plant an apple orchard on Earth Day

Prairie Seeds Academy (Brooklyn Park)

$2,105 for a fruit tree orchard that Kindergarten through fifth grade classes will help plant, plant, and maintain

Richfield Public School District

$4,766 for Arbor Day tree plantings with environmental clubs at seven buildings

Saint John the Baptist Catholic Montessori School (Excelsior)

$1,880 for a fruit tree orchard that students will help plan, plant and maintain

School of Engineering and Arts (Golden Valley)

$4,510 for a fruit tree orchard that students will plant and to incorporate forestry into the curriculum

Success Academy (Bloomington)

$4,952 for a tree planting, Arbor Day celebration, and tree-related curriculum

SPARK-Y (Minneapolis)

$1,612 to plant an apple orchard at Roosevelt High School with the Roosevelt Urban Farming group and hold a school-wide Arbor Day celebration

Tree Trust/FAIR Pilgrim Lane School (Plymouth)

$5,000 for a all-school tree planting day

Weaver Lake Elementary (Maple Grove)

$2,599 to engage fifth in planting trees and to incorporate forestry into the curriculum

Whittier International Elementary (Minneapolis)

$3,900 to hold an Arbor Day celebration in which students will help with planning, planting, and watering

YMCA Camp Christmas Tree (Minnetrista)

$5,000 to work with 100 volunteers to remove invasive plants and to plant trees. Campers will help take care of the trees during summer camp session

Grant program updates

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

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.

Project Learning Tree teacher training

Saturday, November 2, 2019, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Eastman Nature Center in Elm Creek Park Reserve.

Learn fun, practical, hands-on lessons that use local trees, forests, and the natural world to teach K-8 students skills in science, math, language arts, and social studies. Teachers who attend this workshop will get the Project Learning Tree K-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide, which contains 96 engaging lessons. Lessons can be done in your classroom, in your schoolyard, or in your school forest in all seasons.

The training will be led by Hennepin County Forester, Jen Kullgren.

Learn more and register by Friday, October 18.

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 

Champlin: please note the class for Saturday, September 14 has been cancelled and will be rescheduled for spring 2020 

St. Anthony:

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.

Community volunteer tree plantings

City of Champlin tree planting

Join Hennepin County and City of Champlin foresters for a community tree planting along the pond in Doris A. Kemp Park.

Event details:

  • Saturday, September 28, at 10 a.m.
  • Doris A. Kemp Park, 519 Hayden Lake Road East, Champlin, MN 55316
  • No experience is necessary — Hennepin County foresters will provide all the tools and instruction on how to plant trees.
  • This is a family-friendly event.
  • A light breakfast and lunch will be provided.
  • RSVP online.

To be notified of future planting opportunities, 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, 1,500 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 higher 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

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

Fall 2018

  • Healthy tree canopy grants
  • Tree planting prioritization map
  • Fall tree planting on Hiawatha Avenue

Summer 2018

  • Options for managing ash trees from the threat of emerald ash borer: new website and education materials available

Spring 2018

  • Celebrate Arbor Day: Hennepin County planting projects and Arbor Day events map
  • New online tree inventory application released
  • Tree steward class empowers community volunteers
  • Hennepin County and partners receive outstanding project award
  • Spring planting projects
  • Upcoming events

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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