Durbin Joins USDA Under Secretary Dr. Homer Wilkes To Announce $23 Million For Illinois To Expand Green Spaces

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Natural Resources Dr. Homer Wilkes to announce Illinois received a $23 million federal investment through the Urban and Community Forests Program (UCF) from the Inflation Reduction Act to expand and improve tree canopy forcommunities across the state.

“The USDA’s Urban and Community Forests Program not only mitigates the scorching heatwaves we endured this summer, but also brings vital relief to disadvantaged neighborhoods that have borne the brunt of scorching summers,” said Durbin. “This transformative $23 million federal investment ensures that future generations inherit a state where clean air, shaded streets, and vibrant communities are the norm — not the exception.”

The Morton Arboretum received a $15 million award, the largest project in the state, through UCF. The Arboretum’s Chicago Region Trees Initiative (CRTI), a coalition of more than 200 partner organizations that have been working together to improve Chicago’s regional forest for nearly 10 years, will award sub-grants exclusively to communities and organizations supporting underserved populations to provide more equitable access to trees and bolster resilience to climate change.

“This funding will help improve the lives of people and bolster resilience to climate change, as communities with access to greater tree canopy experience cooler temperatures, better air quality and improved health outcomes,” said Jill Koski, President and CEO of The Morton Arboretum. “The support of elected officials, civic leaders, and many community partners was instrumental in the Arboretum securing this historic funding to improve the urban forest and benefit underserved Illinois communities.”

The Inflation Reduction Act, which Durbin supported, provides a historic $1 billion in urban and community forestry investments that 1) increase access in disadvantaged urban communities to trees and the associated benefits they provide to human health, the environment, and the economy; 2) broaden community engagement in local urban forest planning, tree planting, and management activities; and 3) improve community and urban forest resilience to climate change, extreme heat, forest pests and diseases, and storm events through best management and maintenance practices.


Illinois recipients of UCF funding include:

  • Improving Aurora's Urban Forest (Aurora): $1,000,000
  • Community Roots: Danville's Urban Reforestation and Revitalization Plan (Danville): $750,000
  • Improving Urban Forest Health in Evanston's Channel (Evanston): $802,500
  • City of Kewanee’s Community Forest Plan (Kewanee): $220,685
  • City of Springfield Urban Forestry Program (Springfield): $889,027
  • Faith Action to Expand Tree Equity and Forestry Workforce in Disadvantaged Communities in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin: $2,000,000
  • Building Urban and Community Forestry Resilience and Capacity in Under-Resourced Communities and Neighborhoods Across Illinois (The Morton Arboretum): $15,000,000
  • Urban Growers Collective: Collective Urban Forestry Stewardship (Chicago): $1,000,000
  • Updated Tree Inventory, Urban Forest Management Plan Development, & Community Outreach (Arlington Heights): $100,000
  • Rantoul: $250,000
  • Educating and Planting Private and Public Trees with a Focus on Skokie's Climate and Economic Justice Disadvantaged Areas (Skokie): $327,400