As you might remember, in the May issue of Tree Services, I used this space to discuss the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the potential influence it could have on the tree care industry. As of mid-September, $98 billion of stimulus money has been distributed, and I’ve finally started hearing reports on some of the opportunities that the ARRA funds have created for arborists and tree care pros.
In Washington, D.C., The Department of Transportation’s Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) received $2.8 million for projects that are expected to create up to 400 jobs. About $2.7 million will be used to create a program called DC Green Corps, which will offer career tracks in urban forestry, forest-based ecosystems and watershed restoration. Some of the other funds will be designated to the Mayor’s Green Summer Job Corps, a program that allows 100 teens to work with the UFA’s tree workers in data collection and tree maintenance.
The Virginia Department of Forestry has been awarded more than $1 million in stimulus money for projects that include planting trees and removing trees that could be at risk of falling. The majority of the money will be allocated to communities within the Shenandoah Valley, and the projects are projected to create 12 landscaper and arborist positions, and retain 42 other positions.
In Massachusetts, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) was awarded $4.487 million for tree replanting efforts in the Worcester area. The DCR will use the funds to replace trees that have been removed because they have been infested by, or are potential hosts of, Asian long-horned beetle. To date, approximately 20,000 trees have been taken down to combat the invasive beetle. The money, part of $89 million allocated by the USDA to address problems caused by insects, disease, fire and invasive species, will enable the DCR to hire 20 additional employees to negotiate with nurseries, discuss plantings with property owners and plant the trees.
I’m positive we will never have hard figures on the effect of the ARRA on employment, but it’s encouraging to see that progress is being made, and some new opportunities are being created. If any Tree Services readers are involved with a stimulus project, I’d love to hear about it. Send me an e-mail and tell me what’s going on in your area.