According to the press release, The Walton Family Foundation is expanding its effort to increase and diversify the area's tree canopy by providing grants at the recommendation of Steuart Walton to cities and local nonprofits in Benton County. Funding will provide nearly 3,000 trees of 25 different species for community projects and resident giveaways.
"Investing in green spaces and natural infrastructure will pay off for generations to come," said Steuart Walton. "It makes towns more pleasant places to live and encourages folks to get out and experience the wonderful natural assets found in and around our communities that we often take for granted."
This year, the program includes 12 grants totaling more than $2 million to municipalities, the Benton County Fair Association, the Rogers Historical Museum, the Friendship Community Care Children's Center and local foundations. Funding will allow grantees to plant large and smaller trees near trails, highways, parks, airports, elementary schools, playgrounds, fairgrounds and other public spaces to improve livability and economic activity. As the trees continue to grow, communities will reap additional benefits including cleaner air, increased shade, reduced runoff and improved wildlife conditions. The new trees will also help enhance the region's overall health, beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities.
Cities will host giveaways this fall for residents to receive smaller trees in three- to five-gallon pots. Giveaways will take place in Pea Ridge on October 6; Bella Vista on October 12; Centerton on October 11 and 12; Gentry, Gravette and Siloam Springs on October 13; Rogers on October 20; and Bentonville on November 3. Each municipality will release full event details in the coming days.
Last year's planting initiative contributed more than $780,000 worth of grants providing 2,000 trees in Benton County. The program has helped increase interest in urban forestry, with more communities, schools and nonprofits participating this year. Mountain bikers and hikers have benefited from improved shade along the trails and the Razorback Regional Greenway. Trees are also improving the experience for users of the Bentonville Community Center with more shade and flowering trees available on nearby trails, ballfields and parking lots.
About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. The children and grandchildren of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. In 2017, the foundation awarded more than $535 million in grants in support of these initiatives. To learn more, visit waltonfamilyfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.