PCEF (Finally) Speaks for the Trees

It’s directing $40 million to “growing an equitable tree canopy.”

FALL FOLIAGE: Tree canopy in Southwest Portland. (Henry Cromett)

In the first two rounds of grants from the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund, precious little money went to planting trees, even though they are a proven technology for removing carbon from the atmosphere and providing shade in urban heat islands.

Portland’s best-known arboreal organization, Friends of Trees, got rejected in the first round and won just $95,791 in the second, when PCEF doled out $122 million to other nonprofits.

But the group may have better luck in the future.

As part of an overhaul of PCEF led by City Commissioner Carmen Rubio, the fund is making tree planting a priority. It’s directing $40 million to “growing an equitable tree canopy,” according to a presentation by PCEF program manager Sam Baraso.

A portion of the money would go toward training a tree-planting workforce and building a pool of contractors, according to Baraso’s presentation.

Related: East of 82nd Avenue, Portlanders are covered by far fewer trees.

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