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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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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 2021 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 2021 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 2021 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 2021 healthy tree canopy grant guidelines for nonprofit organizations (PDF) for more information.

How to apply

The application round for 2021 Healthy Tree Canopy grants is closed. Grant applications are typically accepted once per year in the spring. Sign up for the Canopy newsletter to be notified about the next round of grants.

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.

About Arbor Day

Arbor Day is celebrated each year on the last Friday of April and Arbor Month is celebrated throughout May. This is a time to recognize the many benefits that trees provide to our health, well being, and environment and take action to care for trees. Arbor Day 2021 is Friday, April 30.

Recognizing the climate-fighting power of trees 

This Arbor Day, we’re celebrating the important role that trees play in fighting climate change and getting to net zero carbon emissions, which is the county’s new greenhouse gas emission reduction goal. Net zero carbon emissions is achieved by “balancing” a limited amount of carbon released with offsets that remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and store carbon in their wood. The older the tree, the more climate benefits it provides. The shade from trees also lessens the need for cooling in buildings, which reduces carbon dioxide and other pollutants from power plants. 

For example, an oak tree with a 20 inch diameter – big enough that an adult could barely wrap their arms around – reduces carbon in the atmosphere by about 1,000 pounds annually. That’s enough to charge your smartphone about 55,000 times!

Trees provide many additional benefits. That same tree near a single-family home provides overall benefits of about $200 per year by increasing the property value, conserving electricity, intercepting and filtering stormwater, and improving air quality. Imagine the benefits multiplying for each tree in your neighborhood!

Celebrating our champions

A champion tree is the biggest documented living tree of a species in a certain area. There are several Minnesota champion trees already documented in Hennepin County: American elm, box elder, eastern hemlock, red elm, red mulberry, and sugar maple.

Every year, these champion trees together capture enough carbon to offset the annual energy use of one home. To capture the same amount of carbon that these big, mature trees do, you would need to plant 126 seedlings and let them grow for 10 years!

Do you know a champion?

It’s possible that you have a Minnesota champion tree in your yard or neighborhood that hasn’t been reported to the Big Tree Champions database. To figure it out:

  1. Measure the tree
    Watch this short video from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for tips on how to measure your potential champion tree.
  2. Check to see how the tree compares
    Check your measurements against the current champion trees for your tree’s species and see if it beats out the current champion.
  3. Nominate the tree
    If your tree seems to measure up and might be the reigning champion, nominate it using this form (PDF).

Calculate the benefits of trees near you

Calculate the benefits of trees near you using the tree benefits calculator.

To calculate the benefits, first identify the tree species. Use our neighborhood tree bingo (pdf) and tree identification guide (PDF) to help figure it out!

Then, measure the tree by wrapping a measuring tape or string around the tree about 4.5 feet off the ground (about chest height) to get the circumference. Divide the circumference by 3.14 to get the diameter.

Planting trees for a changing climate

Minnesota’s changing climate is affecting what trees will thrive in our area. Planting a diversity of trees will make our communities more resilient to climate change. Learn more about trees and a changing climate (PDF) from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

As the climate in Minnesota shifts, it is important to plant trees that will thrive in the future. Consider trees of the following species for planting in Hennepin County:

  • Bur oak
  • Dutch elm resistant elm varieties
  • Ginkgo
  • Horse chestnut
  • Kentucky coffeetree
  • Northern catalpa
  • Ohio buckeye
  • Shagbark hickory
  • Swamp white oak
  • Turkish hazelnut
  • Yellowwood

Be sure to plant the right tree for your planting location. Consider the mature height and spread of a tree when making your choice.

How to keep mature trees safe and healthy

Be aware of root zones when installing or expanding patios, decks, sidewalks, and driveways

Planning to install a patio, deck, sidewalk, or expand a driveway? Be aware of the root zones of mature trees. Remember that the roots keep your beautiful mature tree healthy and hydrated. Plan your project around the roots of the trees and avoid cutting into or paving over roots whenever possible.

Protect mature trees during construction projects

If you have a construction project coming up, incorporate protecting mature trees as part of the planning process rather than cutting them down.

Treat some species of trees to keep them healthy

If you have a mature ash tree on your property that you want to preserve, you should be treating it to protect it from emerald ash borer soon. Learn more about emerald ash borer and preserving your tree.

If you have any trees that are threatened by disease, there are often ways to preserve high value ones. Whether you are treating or removing your trees, you should work with an ISA-certified arborist. These arborists are trained in proper tree care by the International Society of Arboriculture. Learn about working with an arborist (PDF) and find an ISA-certified arborist near you. 

Goals to protect and diversify the county’s tree canopy

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 trees@hennepin.us

Hennepin County sells trees each spring to property owners to restore and improve woodland areas and increase wildlife habitat.

Placing an order

The order deadline for the spring 2021 tree sale has passed. The next tree sale will be spring 2022. Sign up for the Canopy newsletter to receive updates about the county's forestry program, including the next tree sale.

Tree planting and care resources

For more information and questions

Contact Shane DeGroy at shane.degroy@hennepin.us if you have questions regarding the tree sale or for more information about tree species, selection, and planting.

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.

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.

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, 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:

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).

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 2021

  • Celebrating Arbor Day: Recognizing the climate-fighting power of trees 
  • Healthy tree canopy grants available
  • Community Forestry Strategic Plan establishes goals to protect and diversify the county’s tree canopy
  • Successful spring tree sale
  • Celebrating our champions
  • Calculate the benefits of trees near you
  • Planting trees for a changing climate
  • How to keep mature trees safe and healthy
  • Tree education resources 
    • Tree Trek with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities
    • Resources for raising awareness about emerald ash borer and managing ash trees

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.

Healthy Tree Canopy grants awarded in 2021

In September 2021, the county awarded 21 Healthy Tree Canopy grants totaling about $404,000. Grant projects will take place in nine cities, on 10 affordable housing properties, at four schools, and through five nonprofit organizations, including congregations and neighborhood associations. More than 1,000 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. Most of the grants awarded are within medium and high priority planting areas on the county’s tree planting prioritization map.
  • 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.

Bloomington

$9,255 to plant up to 40 trees.

Brooklyn Park

$50,000 to create tree planting plans at public facilities, plant 135 trees in various parks, treat 150 to 200 ash trees, and purchase a water trailer. 

Champlin

$17,718 to work in four parks in south central Champlin to remove ash trees, treat ash trees, and replant 40 replacements trees.

Eden Prairie

$43,949 to plant 175 trees in various parks, treat high priority ash trees, and remove 100 trees.  

Greenwood

$1,875 to conduct a public ash tree inventory, which will be completed by a consultant. 

Hopkins

$44,660 to remove 75 ash trees and plant 85 replacement trees.  

Minnetonka

$20,700 to plant 120 trees, treat ash trees, build a gravelbed nursery, and construct educational kiosks in three city parks and on five city¬≠owned properties.  

New Hope

$15,000 to plant 40 trees throughout the city to replace ash trees.

Wayzata

$8,500 to upload and update a volunteer-led tree inventory into the Hennepin County tree app and treat 24 ash trees. 

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

$90,591, including $7,003 for gravel-bed trees and Sentencing to Service crew and the rest for projects on various properties:

  • Bass Lake Crossing in New Hope: remove three dead or infected ash trees and plant three replacement trees. 
  • Cedar Gate Apartments in Bloomington: remove three dead or infected ash trees and plant three replacement trees. 
  • Cedar Glen Apartments in Bloomington: remove eight dead or infected ash trees and plant eight replacement trees. 
  • Kings Manor in New Hope: remove 10 dead/infected ash trees and plant 10 replacement trees. 
  • Lynwood Pointe in Brooklyn Center: remove 10 dead or infected ash trees and plant 10 replacement trees. 
  • Masada Manor in Bloomington: remove 10 dead or infected ash trees and plant 10 replacement trees.
  • Met Towers in Bloomington: remove 10 dead/infected ash trees and plant 10 replacement trees. 
  • Nicollet Court in Bloomington: remove five dead or infected ash trees and plant five replacement trees. 

Amorce I Limited Partnership in Brooklyn Park and Bloomington

$20,000 to remove 17 ash trees at Brook Gardens and The Highlands and plant 17 replacement trees. 

Autumn Ridge Limited Partnership LLC in Brooklyn Park

$20,000 to remove 18 ash trees and plant 18 replacement trees at Autumn Ridge Apartments. 

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.

Eden Prairie Independent School District 272

$8,940 to replant 82 replacement trees where ash trees have been previously removed.

ISD 287 Ann Bremer Education Center in Plymouth

$3,720 to plant 20 trees throughout school grounds with students leading the project.

Nativity Lutheran Church in St. Anthony Village

$3,426 to remove two ash trees and plant 19 trees for habitat creation and replacing canopy loss.

Robbinsdale ISD 281 New Hope Learning Center

$4,819 to expand outdoor learning environment and add 13 new trees for a diverse tree canopy.

ServeMinnesota in Minneapolis

$10,000 match funds for one full-time Community Forestry Corps member to serve with the City of Minneapolis Health Department, focusing on reducing disparities in tree canopy.

Special School District 1 Minneapolis Public Schools

$9,756 to replace 50 trees that have been removed due to emerald ash borer.   

St. Anthony East Neighborhood Association in Minneapolis

$7,720 to remove seven remaining green ash trees in Community Commons Park and replace with 10 trees of diverse species.

St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Richfield

$9,302 to remove seven ash trees, plant 26 new trees, and conduct tree­-related education.

St. Thomas the Apostle in Minneapolis

$5,041 to remove 10 ash trees and replant 10 replacement trees. 

 
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