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Community Tree Management


TreeVitalize is a public-private partnership established by DCNR to help build capacity within communities to plan for, plant, and care for trees, and to offer educational trainings to help citizens understand the diverse benefits of trees and the importance of properly planting and maintaining them.

TreeVitalize offers a broad range of services to support sustainable urban and community forestry programs across the state.

How to Volunteer

Tree Tenders®, a trademark of TreeVitalize partner Pennsylvania Horticulture Society, is a seven-hour course that empowers citizens to help plant and care for newly established shade trees.

It is offered throughout the state with instruction provided by various TreeVitalize partners.

It includes both classroom and hands-on field sessions, and educates participants in:

  • Tree biology
  • Tree identification
  • Stresses trees face
  • Proper planting, maintenance, and pruning practices
  • How to organize a community tree planting

Upon completion of the training, a Tree Tender is poised to become an advocate for community trees, and to actively volunteer in their own community tree program. Volunteers help local government personnel to understand, protect, and restore their community trees.

By conducting tasks such as mulching, watering, pruning, and data collection and entry, volunteers help build capacity and stretch community resources.

To learn of the upcoming Tree Tenders courses, contact TreeVitalize.

TreeVitalize Grants

TreePennsylvania -- PA’s Urban and Community Forestry Council -- administers the statewide TreeVitalize grants.

Funding focuses on assisting communities in establishing and building programs that plant, maintain and sustainably manage public shade trees.

Eligible parties include municipalities or non-profit agencies in Pennsylvania.

Currently, TreePennsylvania holds one grant round per year, typically due in early fall.

To view upcoming grant opportunities and grant guidelines, please visit TreePennsylvania.

If you wish to apply for larger TreeVitalize grants (tree planting, planning, and/or canopy enhancement) directly through the state, click on Community Conservation Partnership Program and then click on the State and Regional Partnerships Application. 

TreeVitalize grants run through the Bureau of Recreation and  Conservation's State and Regional Partnerships application so please be sure to put TreeVitalize in the grant application title.

Grant applications are due April 6, 2022 and awards will be announced in late 2022. 

Keystone Tree Fund

The Keystone Tree Fund creates a voluntary $3.00 check-off box on Pennsylvania driver’s license and vehicle registration online applications to buy, plant, and maintain more trees across the commonwealth.

The fund also can accept direct donations in the form of checks.

Checks should be made out to “DCNR c/o Keystone Tree Fund,” and mailed to:

PA DCNR Bureau of Forestry
ATTN: Rural and Community Forestry
400 Market St., 6th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17105

These voluntary donations will support the existing TreeVitalize and Riparian Forest Buffer Grant programs through DCNR.

Trees are one of the most cost-effective tools for improving local water quality. Along streams, trees:

  • Filter and absorb polluted runoff
  • Sequester carbon
  • Improve soil health
  • Cleanse drinking water sources

They also cool the water and improve habitat for many species.

Educational Trainings and Workshops

TreeVitalize partners offer educational opportunities throughout the year across the state. These offerings aim to build awareness of the importance of trees, teach proper tree care, tree maintenance, and community tree management.

To learn about upcoming events, visit the TreePennsylvania calendar.

Urban Tree Canopy Assessments and Urban Tree Health Monitoring

TreeVitalize offers technical assistance to communities interested in:

  • Conducting street tree inventories
  • Young tree monitoring
  • General urban forest management activities

The Pennsylvania Community Tree Map and Citizen Tree Monitoring Training Toolkit were developed as tools to assist communities with urban forest planning. These resources are free and are available to every community in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Community Tree Map

DCNR's Bureau of Forestry received a U.S. Forest Service grant to provide communities with a free tree mapping tool to help better manage and grow the urban forest.

Pennsylvania Community Tree Map offers shade tree commissions and other volunteers, non-profits, and urban tree managers a means of conducting tree inventories, storing the data, and tracking tree maintenance and stewardship activities.

It also can house urban tree canopy analysis data.

The tool can communicate the economic benefits the tree canopy within a municipality currently provides, and can help community tree managers make more informed land planning decisions.

You can subscribe to the map and create an account at OpenTreeMap.

Citizen Tree Monitoring Training Toolkit

This toolkit was developed in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to help communities conduct their own young tree monitoring, essential to ensure the long-term survival of tree planting projects.

The free resource offers short, ready-to-use training materials including a citizen-oriented training guide, an example curriculum and agenda, an editable presentation and handouts.

These are intended for use by local government personnel, nonprofits, and citizen volunteers.

Tree City USA, Tree Campus USA, Tree Line USA

Tree City, Tree Campus, and Tree Line are Arbor Day Foundation programs that recognize communities, college campuses, and electric utility companies that understand and promote the benefits of shade trees, and take active steps to properly care for them.

Each year, to maintain Tree City, Tree Campus, or Tree Line status, participants must verify that they have met certain program standards. In general, these include a named entity responsible for:

  • The care of trees within the jurisdiction
  • Written guiding principles for the tree care program
  • A population-based tree budget
  • An annual celebration of Arbor Day

For 2016, there were 110 Tree City communities in Pennsylvania, 16 Tree Campus colleges, and three Tree Line companies.

Urban Wood Utilization

There is a significant volume of wood generated each year from the removal of shade trees in urban areas. Such wood is commonly viewed as a waste product and is ground into woodchips, often at a considerable cost to private companies and municipalities.

Currently, across the country, urban wood is gaining recognition as an untapped and underutilized natural resource with tremendous potential as a source of wood to meet many needs. For example, it could be used:

  • To produce furniture, flooring, and paneling
  • For construction, landscaping, and pallets
  • As a significant fuel source, as chips or charcoal

Thriving urban wood utilization networks now exist in many metropolitan areas, linking those at every point along the wood use chain. DCNR's Bureau of Forestry seeks to facilitate the establishment of such networks in Pennsylvania through an online directory of:

  • Log suppliers
  • Sawyers
  • Processors
  • Wood workers
  • Manufacturers
  • End users

To be added to the directory, contact DCNR’s Mark Hockley.

TreeVitalize Partners

TreeVitalize program delivery is made possible through several key partners:

DCNR Bureau of Forestry 
The Rural and Community Forestry Section of DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry is the lead for the TreeVitalize Program. It employs one full-time coordinator.

TreePennsylvania -- Pennsylvania's Urban and Community Forestry Council 
The PA Urban and Community Forestry Council is a 501(c)3 non-profit comprised of a voluntary board of members and appointed state department representatives that provide feedback on the TreeVitalize program at large. The PA Urban and Community Forestry Council is responsible for administering TreeVitalize tree planting grants.

Pennsylvania Horticulture Society 
Founded in 1827 and headquartered in Philadelphia, PHS is a prominent environmental non-profit working to restore the urban tree canopy in the southeast region of the state. Pennsylvania Horticulture Society created the Tree Tenders® training program that is frequently used and administered by TreeVitalize partners.

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy partners with TreeVitalize to administer tree planting grants for the greater Pittsburgh area.

Penn State Extension 
Penn State Extension has five regional (NE, NW, SE, SW, SC) urban foresters who help communities manage their trees properly and safely through technical advice, educational workshops, and grants that promote proper tree planting and tree care.

Pennsylvania Municipalities 
Many communities across the commonwealth have received TreeVitalize tree planting grants, helping to restore and protect the state’s urban tree canopy. TreeVitalize partners work closely with shade tree commissions in communities and collaborate on educational workshops, trainings, and volunteer activities.