LINCOLN, Neb. -- Millions of mature trees in communities across the state have been lost from diseases, insect pests, weather events and other causes over the last few decades. In addition, emerging threats such as emerald ash borer, pine wilt disease and worsening drought could kill millions more trees in the coming years.

To help address both the past tree losses and looming threats, Trees for Nebraska Towns was created by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum and the Nebraska Forest Service. The initiative makes nearly $300,000 in grant funds available to assist with tree planting in communities across the state.

"Because of prolonged drought, ice storms and untimely snows," Eric Berg of the Nebraska Forest Service said, "many Nebraska communities have experienced a trend where their forest canopy has actually decreased some 20-40 percent over the last two decades."

The principal goals of the program are to improve species diversity in participating communities; to promote the planting of large-growing trees (shade trees or large evergreen trees); and to foster better maintenance of trees for long-term success, Berg said.

The maximum funding request is $20,000. A 50 percent funding match is required of all projects. Donated and in-kind goods and services, including volunteer labor, are allowed toward the required match.

Applications, which will be accepted through Nov. 17, are available by contacting the NSA offices at (402) 472-2971, sending an e-mail to, or by downloading the form on-line.

The TNT Program is a cooperative effort of the arboretum and forest service funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust, a beneficiary of the Nebraska Lottery.

SOURCE: University of Nebraska news release.