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James Wolf saw grassy patches at his son’s school “begging for some trees.”

So, the community group he’s a member of, Friends of Hampden, applied for a grant to do something about it. This spring, volunteers planted Redbud, Black Gum and White Oak trees at Hampden Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore City.

Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Urban Tree Program provided funding for the Friends of Hampden project. The program is a partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and is administered through the Maryland Urban and Community Forest Committee (MUCFC).

Applications for the next round of grants are being accepted through July 15.

Urban Tree Program grants support MDOT’s statewide initiative to plant trees in urban areas that have had trees removed as part of construction of a transportation facility project and are impacted by heat island effects. Heat islands experience higher temperatures than areas with natural landscapes such as forests or water bodies, because dense concentrations of pavement, buildings, and other surfaces absorb and transmit heat.

James Wolf of the Friends of Hampden helped plant trees at his son’s school. (Photo by Meredith Devereux)

The grant to the Friends of Hampden was one of the first under the program, for just under $1,000. A tree planting event was held at the school on April 29 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day. Close to 90 people, including students, pitched in. The Baltimore Tree Trust provided workers and volunteers to teach children how to plant and take care of the trees. Wolf said the White Oak, which is the state tree of Maryland, will be the “centerpiece” of the campus.

A few of the newly planted trees at Hampden Elementary/Middle School. (Photo by Meredith Devereux)

Shawn Kiernan, senior manager for Strategic Climate Initiatives with MDOT, said the projects help communities and local organizations increase the urban tree canopy using native Maryland trees and that the bonds created when communities come together to plant trees can last a lifetime.

Shawn Kiernan, senior manager for Strategic Climate Initiatives with MDOT, said the program increases urban tree canopy and helps communities come together. (Photo by Meredith Devereux)

In addition to the Friends of Hampden, the first grant recipients were: The Town of Edmonston, which used over 125 volunteers to plant 100 native trees; and the University of Maryland’s Reforestation Project, which will orchestrate the planting of about 145 trees across campus.

Organizations interested in applying for the next round of grants, which are for the fall planting season, should click here for more information and to submit a proposal.

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