From staff reports
In response to the statewide decline of ash trees due to the introduction of the emerald ash borer, the Virginia Department of Forestry is offering financial assistance to remove dead or dying ash trees from the public landscape. Municipalities, local government agencies, nonprofit entities on public lands, and/or tribal communities are eligible to apply to receive funding through this 50% cost-share program, according to the VDOF. No private companies or landowners are eligible.
To qualify for this program, the tree(s) must have a diameter at breast height (DBH) of 17 inches or greater and exhibit greater than 30% canopy loss. All applications must have a removal quote or bid attached from an International Society of Arboriculture-certified arborist. The cost share will cover 50% of total removal costs as a reimbursement (up to $6,150 per organization or $30 per diameter inch) and will include an incentive payment of $200 for replacement of every tree removed under the cost-share (up to $1,200).
“It’s important to maintain the tree canopy on our public lands. Cost-share programs like this can support land managers who may need to remove trees but want to keep the overall canopy intact by replacing removed trees,” said Molly O’Liddy, VDOF’s urban and community forestry partnership coordinator, in a news release.
To qualify for the replacement tree incentive, removed ash trees must be replaced with an appropriate caliper-sized native species on VDOF’s approved species list, available at www.dof.virginia.gov. The organization is responsible for purchasing and planting all replacement trees then reporting each tree planted on VDOF’s Trees Count survey application. Replacement trees do not need to be planted in the exact same location as the removed ash tree.
Ranking of applications will be based upon a community’s need. Trees already removed do not qualify for this program. Ash trees in decline as a result of something other than EAB also do not qualify. VDOF program staff will complete a site visit upon receiving application for funding to ensure the trees meet the basic program requirements.
This ash removal and replacement cost-share program is the first of its kind offered by VDOF and is very limited short-term funding, according to the release. Open enrollment began Aug. 3 and will close Friday, Sept. 18. Ranking of applications and awards will be completed the week of Sept. 21.