BATON ROUGE, LA – The Walls Project, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to tearing down societal barriers that hinder people from living safe, healthy, and prosperous lives, is thrilled to announce the receipt of a transformative $6 million grant from the U.S. Forest Service (USDA) which will enable the organization to launch an agroforestry apprenticeship program. This historic investment in Baton Rouge is made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act through the Forest Service's Urban and Community Forestry program.
The Walls Project is collaborating with key local partners on this project including Baton Rouge Green, East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority (EBRPHA), and the Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge (BREC). This project will provide paid workforce training to support and sustain tree planting and green infrastructure projects that benefit vulnerable community housing populations suffering extreme heat and inequitable access to the urban tree canopy.
East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome discusses the benefits this project will bring to residents of East Baton Rouge Parish.
"As Mayor of Baton Rouge, I congratulate The Walls Project on securing $6 million through the U.S. Forest Service investment. This significant funding empowers our disadvantaged communities with new opportunities and paves the way for the next generation of urban foresters, arborists, and green advocates. The Agroforestry Apprenticeship Program, promoting tree equity, climate resilience, and workforce readiness, perfectly aligns with our vision for a brighter and more sustainable Baton Rouge. I am excited about the transformative impact this project will have on our community and commend The Walls Project for their dedication to our city's future."
Trees mitigate extreme heat, conserve energy, provide shade, absorb stormwater, create wildlife habitat, and filter air and water. An urban tree canopy leads to better health outcomes, economic opportunities and jobs, and increased property values. July 2023 was the hottest month on record in communities across the country. Research has shown tree canopy cover reduces temperatures 11-19° F compared to communities with no tree cover.
This project allows for the expansion of existing agroforestry efforts and partnerships championed by Baton Roots Community Farm, a program of The Walls Project. This initiative will add more than 1000 trees and train the workforce to maintain them.
Nationally, $1.5 Billion dollars is funding projects expanding tree canopy and access to nature. 385 grants were awarded to 50 states, 2 territories, 3 U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands, and multiple tribal communities. 100% of benefits will flow to communities in greatest need.
On Thursday, September 21, 2023, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service Randy Moore, community stakeholders, and members of the press gathered at Southern University’s Valdry Center to acknowledge the local and national Investing in America's Urban and Community Forests awardees. Remarks from the U.S. Forest Service were followed by a tree planting on the Southern University Bluffs to commemorate this historic investment in Louisiana communities.
Walls Project invites the Baton Rouge community to join them in this exciting endeavor as they work towards a more resilient and equitable future for all residents of Baton Rouge.
More information about the funded proposals, as well as announcements about the grant program, is available on the Forest Service website. For more information about the Walls Project and Baton Roots Community Farm, please visit thewallsproject.org/batonroots.