State awards funds through its Natural Climate Solutions Grants program, including to Newark

Photo Courtesy of NJDEP
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette announces the award of $24.3 million in Natural Climate Solutions Grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations.

TRENTON, NJ — New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette announced Jan. 18 the award of $24.3 million in Natural Climate Solutions Grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations to create, restore and enhance New Jersey’s green spaces and tree canopies in urban areas, salt marshes and forests.

“With Gov. Phil Murphy’s vision and leadership, New Jersey is waging its fight against climate change on multiple fronts,” LaTourette said during a ceremony in Trenton. “New Jersey will avoid the worst effects of our changing climate not only by reducing emissions of climate pollutants, but by investing in natural solutions that sequester carbon causing the extreme heat and flooding repeatedly striking our communities. Through DEP’s nation-leading Natural Climate Solutions Grant program, we will better support communities in their work to mitigate climate impacts — from our urban core, to the Atlantic coast, to our bay shores. And, with over $24 million of investments in urban and community forestry, marsh restoration and living shorelines, we will beautify neighborhoods and build greater climate resilience in the process.”

The announcement, made at Mill Hill Park in Trenton, underscores the important role natural resources play in sequestering carbon to meet the Garden State’s greenhouse gas goals. Meeting the state’s 2050 goal of an 80-percent reduction in greenhouse gases below 2006 levels requires an acceleration of the restoration of the state’s shorelines, forests and urban spaces. It is estimated that these projects will sequester 32,710 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050.

“These grants are providing real opportunities for our environmental justice communities to take meaningful steps toward climate resilience and an improved environment,” said Kandyce Perry, director of NJDEP’s Office of Environmental Justice. “While each community has differing needs and ways of getting to their goals, they each share the strong desire to help improve the quality of life for their residents.”

These projects are funded through New Jersey’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate, market-based program that establishes a regional cap on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel power plants.

The city of Newark received $1,228,148 to remove hazardous, dead trees and plant 331 new trees in five target neighborhoods in the city. Newark’s Office of Sustainability will work with local contractors and community members on the initiative. The planting areas — one in each ward — were selected based on community-centered analyses that identified areas of the city that have greater needs to increase urban tree canopy.

“Newark is committed to creating a greener, healthier and more sustainable city for its residents and visitors alike, and we are grateful to the state Department of Environmental Protection for its Natural Climate Solutions $1.2 million grant, which will place trees in targeted neighborhoods across the city,” Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said. “This will reduce heat and sequester carbon emissions in our neighborhoods, which will support the health of our community. These trees will also reduce stormwater runoff, (and) provide environmental education through NJIT, community science and development, and jobs and training opportunities for residents.”