Initiative, funding opportunities announced to grow Lexington’s tree canopy

The City of Lexington is excited to introduce a new project called Lex Grow Trees. Its goal is to make Lexington's tree population healthier and bigger. Thanks to $1.5 million from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council, Lex Grow Trees will use this money to plant new trees, take care of existing ones and teach people why trees are so important for our environment, society, economy and health.

The application window for the first round of grants is currently open. Nonprofits, neighborhood associations, and businesses can apply for money to help with tree projects in Fayette County. Applications are due April 26. Recipients will be notified by May 31, in time to get supplies for planting in the fall. A total of $500,000 is available this round, with a maximum award of $100,000, if approved by Council. 

Fayette County residents wanting a tree planted at their home or business do not need to apply for a grant. Instead, they can fill out a simple interest form on the website for potential fall plantings.

The Lex Grow Trees Committee is hosting two information sessions. The first will take place on Wednesday, March 27 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. at the Northside Library, 1733 Russell Cave Road. Spanish interpretive services will be available. A virtual learning session will take place Thursday, March 28, from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Visit the Lex Grow Trees website for:

•             grant details and application

•             meeting information, including the Zoom link and (afterward) a recording of the session

•             the homeowner interest form, and

•             information on other Lex Grow Trees initiatives.

“We have heard from so many members of our community about how important trees are to them – and to the health of Lexington as a whole. We want to make sure that trees are planted and maintained in areas where they are most needed,” said LFUCG 3rd District Councilmember Hannah LeGris, who co-chairs the Lex Grow Trees Committee. ”This is an initiative with equity at the foundation, and I hope that we will receive unique grant applications from across Fayette County.”

So, why trees and why now? Over the past several years, residents have voiced an unprecedented level of concern for our city’s tree canopy. In response, the Urban County Council and the administration designated funds to support Lexington’s tree canopy. The $1.5 million was placed with the Division of Environmental Services. The Division formed a Tree Canopy Ad Hoc Committee (aka the Lex Grow Trees Committee) to provide input on how the funds should be allocated. The Committee created the Lex Grow Trees campaign, which is dedicated to addressing tree canopy inequalities in Lexington and sharing information about ongoing tree-related projects and initiatives.

“Trees benefit our community in so many ways. Not only do trees remove pollutants from our urban environment, both from our water and our air, but they are also the lifeblood of a vibrant community,” said Heather Wilson, LFUCG’s Urban Forestry Section Manager. “They give a community a sense of place, they provide opportunity for neighbors to gather together beneath their protective canopies, they beautify our streets and neighborhoods and they provide us with shade, food and a connection to nature.”

Wilson noted several other benefits.

•             Trees shade our houses, reducing our reliance on air conditioning to stay cool. This lowers utility costs.

•             Trees reduce the amount of rain entering our storm sewers, reducing the likelihood of flooding.

•             Trees reduce rates of respiratory diseases, like asthma, by cleaning the air.

•             Trees emit calming chemicals that reduce stress. Lower stress is good for our hearts.

“Trees remind us of what it was like to play outside when we were children and all we had to worry about was getting home before it was dark. Trees are the most vital piece of urban existence, connecting us back to the natural world we all live within,” Wilson reflected.

The Lex Grow Trees effort is informed by the 2022 Urban Tree Canopy Study. In that report, Council Districts 1, 2, and 7 were identified as areas that could benefit most from tree canopy expansion. That study, as well as an interactive map, are available on the website.

To get the latest information on grants, volunteer opportunities and information sessions, sign up for the Lex Grow Trees e-newsletter on the Lex Grow Trees website.

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