New program aims to improve Onondaga County communities through neighborhood forests

Local News

EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County (CCE) is getting ready to launch a new initiative to help improve our communities.

It’s called the Community Forestry Network, funded by the New York State Department of Conservation’s Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program.

Urban Forestry Educator Ryan Fawcett says it will help neighborhood forests flourish while improving the quality of life for people who live around them.

“They’re [volunteers] gonna be learning about urban and greenspace park design, they’re gonna be learning about tree ordinance and different kind of tree laws that we have,” he said.

The CCE is looking for first-time and seasoned arborists and activists, as well as local leaders, to join their team of volunteers.

We need to get the people who are in charge on board because they’re the people who make budgets and make decisions in the town for what the town is going to care about and pay for going forward. They’re the people that also have the infrastructure and the equipment and the tools to help take care of the trees that we have.

Ryan Fawcett, Urban Forestry Educator

Beyond planting and pruning, volunteers will write grants and learn the science of why and where trees are planted.

Without people taking care of them, Fawcett says neighborhoods would become barren and existing trees and their branches would weaken.

“We’d have more power outages, we’d see more streets and sidewalks torn up by roots growing where someone planted a tree that shouldn’t belong there,” he said.

Together, he hopes the Community Forestry Network can grow their neighborhood forests while strengthening their communities.

“People should want to have pride in their community and feel like they have more power to make their community better.”

Ryan Fawcett

The program begins in January 2022. Volunteers will meet twice a month.

For more information or to register, you can call Ryan Fawcett at 315-424-9485 ext. 263 or email

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