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Tree Foundation to receive funding for jobs

A non-profit group that promotes an “urban forest” through programs to plant and maintain trees is likely to receive a $750,000 federal stimulus grant to hire additional staffers. The Sacramento Tree Foundation has been selected to receive the American Recovery and Reinvestment grant and is ironing out the details for how it plans to use the money.

The federal stimulus dollars will be distributed through the U.S. Forest Service and will be administered through California ReLeaf, a Davis-based environmental group.

“We’re privileged as well as excited to receive the grant from the Forest Service,” said City Councilman Ray Tretheway, who is the foundation’s executive director. “It hits at an acute time where non-profits are normally struggling.”

The money has already been secured, said Martha Ozonoff, executive director of California ReLeaf. The funding will be obtained through reimbursements and the billing process will likely begin in December, according to Ozonoff and Tretheway. The grant program will last through early 2010, Ozonoff said.

The foundation is pinning down the specifics of how it plans to use the money. The funding is for jobs, but the total number of positions and the job descriptions have not yet been settled. The foundation wants to use the money to hire four staffers, Tretheway said. Resources such as equipment and vehicles to carry out the work would also be part of the proposal for the $750,000 in funding, he said.

However, Ozonoff said she wants to work with the foundation to see if more than four jobs can be created.

Tretheway envisions that four staffers would be regional coordinators for the foundation’s Greenprint initiative, which he explains is a framework for building “the best urban forest” in the region. One of the main framework objectives is to double the tree canopy in the region by 2025, Tretheway said. The undertaking will require planting 5 million trees in the following six counties: Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba.

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.

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