116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A $25,000 grant will support Cedar Rapids’ efforts to replenish the tree canopy lost in the August 2020 derecho, city officials announced Wednesday.
The grant from CN Railway and America in Bloom will go toward ReLeaf, the public-private partnership between the City of Cedar Rapids and Marion-based nonprofit Trees Forever that aims to revive the city’s urban forest in a 10-year span.
The initiative has raised more than $2.8 million so far toward the approximately $37 million plan since the devastating storm struck Cedar Rapids. These private donations add to the $10 million the city has committed — $1 million annually over 10 years.
City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said the two entities have been generous in providing grants to communities along the CN corridor for improvements to urban forests, natural landscaping, ground cover and flower displays.
“We so deeply appreciate all the donors, but in particular, we appreciate the work that's been done today through the donation that’s coming in from America in Bloom as well as CN Railway,” Pomeranz said. “We couldn't do it without you … You're setting a precedent, and we know others will follow.”
Pomeranz said the organizations saw the merit of the ReLeaf Cedar Rapids plan, which guides the planting of more than 42,000 trees on public land and offers resources for private landowners to replant native species on their properties. It envisions trees as a way to advance equity, build community bonds and promote volunteerism.
“Recovery has enabled new opportunities for innovation and collaboration,” Pomeranz said. “Our ReLeaf Cedar Rapids plan is groundbreaking and ambitious. It's something that the city and Trees Forever, our partner, (are) unable to accomplish alone. We need many partners of many different kinds.”
CN Railway Central Division Special Agent Jeffrey Price, the community service officer for CN Railway’s Midwest division, said Cedar Rapids has made great progress to replant the trees toppled in the derecho’s hurricane-force winds.
“Creating a community that is both safe and beautiful speaks directly toward CN values,” Price said. “Cedar Rapids is an important part of our U.S. network and the 20,000-mile network of railroad tracks we operate in both the U.S. and Canada, and we hope to continue to strengthen and build our relationship.”
Marvin Miller, treasurer of America in Bloom and chair of the grant review committee, said when people suddenly recognize the environment in which they live, it transforms the mind, soul and body.
“We really like that folks appreciate green space,” Miller said. “They can do that passively if they want, but if they do it actively, it really helps transform a community and it creates volunteers, and that's part of what America in Bloom is about. We have folks that will come out and help the community that they live in or they work in, where they play in, and they will turn into a team of volunteers. So, hopefully that's in the future for Cedar Rapids.”
Last month, Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell said the city hosted America in Bloom advisers who visited to assess Cedar Rapids’ commitment and progress in achieving the criteria of an America in Bloom community.
“This program is designed to enhance quality of life in our cities, to promote public health through the planting of trees and enhance community tree canopies — all in the name of sustainability,” O’Donnell said.
The city has lost a great deal with its diminished tree canopy, Pomeranz said, but as Cedar Rapids “ReLeafs,” the community will benefit and other communities will follow Cedar Rapids’ lead.
“We in Cedar Rapids share the belief that cities can thrive when every resident, when every visitor, when every business is surrounded by healthy, beautiful trees,” Pomeranz said. “We understand how planting trees not only restores our canopy, but provides neighborhood beauty, supports wildlife, improves equity and stimulates the local economy and empowers our community.”
Comments: (319) 398-8494; firstname.lastname@example.org