Casper City Council on Tuesday tentatively approved accepting up to a $500,000 federal grant to enhance the city's urban forestry programs.

Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service is providing up to $1 billion to governments, higher educational institutions, nonprofits and other community based organizations, according to a memo from Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Director Zulima Lopez and Parks Manager Randy Norvelle.

Parks Supervisor of Urban Forestry Katy Hallock outlined needs the grant could meet:

  • An updated city-owned tree inventory and condition assessment.
  • Removal of high-risk trees to protect life and property.
  • Improve maintenance of trees to promote tree health and meet code and ordinance requirements.
  • Planting and maintenance of new trees to increase the tree canopy and diversify the urban forest.
  • Hire, train and certify staff to develop and expand the number of city arborists.

These priorities, Hallock added, would meet the eligible uses of the grant funding to:

  • Encourage urban forest planning.
  • Encourage proactive and systematic maintenance and monitoring to improve forest health.
  • Assess risks from pests, disease and adverse weather impacts.
  • Advance the use of tree and forest inventories.
  • Develop on-the-job training opportunities.

The $500,000 grant would be a 1:1 match from the city for a total $1 million investment over five years, Hallock said.

City Manager Carter Napier said the city has wide liberty in its resources, such as budgets and additional staff time, to meet the match.

"I feel very confident that the actual out-of-pocket cash needed to match whatever it is that we would be awarded would be fairly minimal," Napier said.

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