Urban and Community Forestry: Urban Wood and Biomass Utilization

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)

Grant amount: US $150,000 - US $750,000

Next anticipated deadline: Dec 16, 2018 (Pre proposal)

Later anticipated deadlines: Dec 18, 2020 (Pre proposal)

Applicant type: Government Entity Nonprofit College / University

Funding uses: Education / Outreach

Location of project: California

Location of residency: California

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Urban Wood and Biomass Utilization are projects that will use urban woody biomass for its highest and best use, thus diverting it from the urban waste stream and avoiding GHG emissions while sequestering GHG for a longer time period.

The purpose of this grant program is to fund the development and implementation of an Urban Wood or Urban Biomass Utilization project or program. Better utilizing this resource will lead to improved management of urban vegetation. Additionally, utilizing trees and other vegetation that are to be removed for a valid management objective avoids them being taken to a waste disposal location where they decay and emit GHG. The focus of this program is to strive to utilize the tree for its highest and best use(s) that lead to reductions in GHG emissions. It is not the intention of the program to fund removal of trees specifically for the purpose of utilization, or programs that intend to do so.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Eligible applicants include:
    • cities
    • counties
    • qualifying districts
      • Districts include, but are not limited to, school, park, recreation, water, and local taxing districts
    • nonprofit organizations qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (PRC 5096.605)
  • These criteria must be met for a project to be eligible:
    • Grant requests must be for the creation, development, and implementation of projects to better utilize trees and/or other vegetation from urban forests.
    • The project will lead to sequestration of GHG and/or avoid emissions of GHG over a 40 year period.
    • Project is located in an “urban area” or “urban cluster” as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau
    • The applicant must comply (or will comply) in all respects with applicable local and county ordinances, and applicable state and federal laws and regulations, including the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 
    • Projects shall include an education and outreach component.
      • Not more than 20% of grant funds may be used for this education and outreach component.
      • The education and outreach component as part of the overall project can be shown as project match dollars by the applicant.
    • The trees that are utilized must not have been removed solely for purposes of utilization.
      • There must be another valid management objective behind the removal of the trees to be utilized as determined by an ISA Certified Arborist, ASCA Registered Consulting Arborist, SAF Certified Urban Forester, or other qualified professional as determined by CAL FIRE. 
      • Projects must show that the removed trees were replaced with a tree of similar or improved long term benefits.
    • Any optional tree planting within the project shall adhere to Appendix I at a minimum. Failure to follow the Standards in Appendix I will lead CAL FIRE to require replacement of the trees at the grantee’s cost. 
  • All the grant categories require a cost share (matching) rate of 75/25.


  • These criteria will be given scoring preference:
    • The project will take place in a CalEnviroScreen 2.0 identified environmental justice community.
    • The project will serve a CalEnviroScreen 2.0 identified environmental justice community per guidance created by the California Air Resources Board.
    • The degree to which the project will have a viable long term plan for success and continued operation. It is not as desirable to fund projects with a one-time effect during the grant period alone.
    • The degree to which the project provides urban forest resources to areas where such resources are absent, or replenishes such resources where they are badly depleted.
    • The degree to which the project uses trees or other vegetation to reduce consumption of finite energy resources, reduce urban heat island effects, or to produce energy and other products from urban forests.
    • The degree to which the project takes into account the highest and best use of the trees to be utilized.
    • The degree to which the project will have an education and outreach component that develops public awareness of the need for expanding and managing urban forest resources.
    • The degree to which the project benefit is high in relation to the budget requested.
    • The degree to which the project utilizes the largest canopied trees possible for the selected planting sites and shows a preference for planting sites that can support large canopied trees.
    • The degree to which trees and plant materials selected are climate appropriate, drought tolerant, and well suited the site.
    • The degree to which the project will advance the practice of urban forestry.
    • The degree to which the project will focus on the multiple benefits of urban forestry.
    • The degree to which the project will be replicable elsewhere.
    • The degree to which the project promotes an ecosystem management approach to urban forestry.
    • The degree to which the project will reach a large and highly diverse population.
    • Tree species selected are classified as very low, low, or moderate water use species in the WUCOLS IV site at or are justified for the planting site(s) selected.


  • Grants cannot finance any undertaking or complete any practice designed to supplant rather than supplement existing local agency activities.
    • Such ineligible practices shall consist of any request that CAL FIRE furnish grants to take the place of a regular or ongoing fiscal commitment to a program or project by a local government.
  • Any practices that are required as mitigation of any kind may not be financed by this grant program.
  • The following practices will not be funded by this grant program:
    • No practices other than those described above may be funded by this grant program without prior written approval by CAL FIRE.
    • Trees or materials sourced from non-urban areas or from Timber Production Zones as defined by the California Forest Practice Rules.
    • Projects that will be utilizing trees removed solely for the purpose of utilization.
    • Projects that will not have any impact beyond the grant period.
    • Projects that will supplant a locally funded budget item rather than supplement it.
    • Projects that will not have a positive GHG benefit.
    • Planting trees that require excessive maintenance such as: excessive long-term watering, fertilizing, exterminating, or controlling plant pests and diseases in order to survive.
    • Projects that plant trees that will eventually conflict with overhead or underground utilities or ground-located infrastructure.
    • Planting invasive species as determined by referencing the California Invasive Plant Council website or similar reference approved by CAL FIRE.
    • Projects that will supplant a locally funded budget item rather than supplement it
  • The following are ineligible costs:
    • Any costs unrelated to the urban wood or biomass project identified in the application.
    • Decorative tree grates and decorative tree guards or other purely aesthetic items.
    • Tree removal, unless the tree is dead or dying, or must be removed for some other valid management objective as approved by CAL FIRE U&CF staff prior to tree removal.
      • Removal for the sole purpose of utilization is not eligible.
      • Any tree that is removed and not utilized is considered a GHG emission.
    • Costs that do not meet the objective of highest and best use of the tree that is removed.
    • Palms are not eligible.
    • Invasive species are not eligible.
    • Any cost that would make a project a net GHG emitter.
    • Inefficient irrigation valves, pumps, sprinkler control timers or overly costly and elaborate irrigation systems.
    • Root barriers.
      • (Note: any use of root barriers as part of a project must be approved by a CAL FIRE Regional Urban Forester).
    • Trees that rely upon excessive amounts of water to survive.
    • Trees that are inappropriate for the chosen site or require excessive maintenance.
    • Trees that will be less than 25 feet in height, with equal crown width, at maturity.
    • Any cost that will supplant a local budget line item.