Modified: March 20, 2024 3:17pm

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The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning (“ECDEP”), in conjunction with numerous community partners, has announced the completion of the Community Climate Action Plan (“CCAP”), a high-level plan developed with input from over one hundred volunteers representing seventy organizations across Erie County including the members of the Erie County Community Climate Change Task Force. The CCAP will strengthen local climate planning efforts and aid immensely in obtaining grants and potential funding to advance these efforts, while guiding communities to help them in planning for and enacting programs to enhance resiliency and preparation for climate impacts in everyday life.  


Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz today joined Anne McCooey of the Black Rock Riverside Alliance, Environmental Management Council Chair Jason Kulaszewski, Erie County Sustainability Director P. Josh Wilson, and Gail Wells of Buffalo Freedom Gardens at Tifft Nature Preserve to announce the CCAP and to discuss a $5.2 million USDA Community Forestry grant which will power a five-year project to create climate benefits primarily by increasing tree canopy in disadvantaged communities. 


“My administration has addressed climate issues head on since I took office, from decreasing the county’s carbon footprint and increasing energy efficiency wherever possible to committing to emissions standards set in the Paris Climate Agreement. Climate change is undeniable, and we all have a role to play in diminishing our impacts while protecting this county and this planet for future generations,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “With the Community Climate Action Plan, climate-cognizant programs and policies can take shape in communities countywide, with better planning to implement them and a better chance of receiving crucial grant funding. My thanks go to all who worked to make this document a reality, as it will be a vital tool moving forward for building a stronger, more climate-resilient Erie County.”


The creation of the CCAP was led by the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning and involved several other Erie County departments (Health, Senior Services, Emergency Services/Homeland Security, Purchasing, Public Works, Social Services, County Executive, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Parks). County staff and volunteer stakeholders participated in ten chapter working groups through the process. These chapters included resilience, consumption and waste reduction, transportation, housing and neighborhood resiliency, economic and workforce development, commercial energy conservation and renewable energy, nature-based solutions, and agriculture and food systems.



The creation of the CCAP was collaborative and inclusive. It was guided by the Community Climate Change Task Force, a committee of the Environmental Management Council, with about seventy community organizations volunteering their time. More than seventy-five presentations were given and one hundred events highlighted the development of the CCAP. Hundreds of public comments were received and considered in the CCAP’s formation and over ten thousand county residents signed up to receive emails and updates on the Plan’s implementation and how they can help. 


“As someone who has dedicated my career to addressing climate change, it has been incredibly rewarding to help lead this effort and see this plan come to fruition.  This was a ‘big tent’ plan from the very beginning, with a level of community engagement that is unprecedented.  Because we know that climate impacts disproportionately impact disadvantaged communities, we addressed climate justice head on, and made equitable climate action a focus of this plan.  All of this was achieved with almost no consultant involvement and was only possible due to an outpouring of stakeholder and volunteer support, resulting in a homegrown plan that reflects Erie County and its needs,” said Environmental Management Council Chair Jason Kulazewski.


One of these new programs is a $5.2 million USDA Community Forestry grant, which the County and community partners worked on together in a time-constrained, complicated application process that would have been near-impossible without the partnerships and understandings gained through the development of this Plan. This 5-year project will increase tree canopy in disadvantaged communities (“DACs”) in Erie County by developing a county-wide Climate Equity Community Forest Management Plan involving extensive outreach, while also supporting projects that directly benefit DACs through tree planting and workforce development. These include creating tree nurseries with workforce development opportunities that supply trees to partners; a riparian trail arboretum; fruit trees to combat food insecurity; an internship program; and job training.


“It is an exciting time to be working on climate action in Erie County.  With our state and federal governments pulling in the same direction on this issue, there are funding opportunities for communities like ours that are ready to get to work.   This USDA grant is a great example of how the creativity and trust fostered by developing this plan sets the stage for our success.  We have a lot of work to do together, and the CCAP is an important step forward,” said Sustainability Director Josh Wilson.


Partners in the project include Black Rock River Alliance, Buffalo Freedom Gardens, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Monarch of Infinite Possibilities LLC, the Town of Tonawanda, Niagara River Greenway, and the City of Buffalo.




For more information:


On the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, visit


On the Community Climate Action Plan, visit


On Erie County’s Climate and Sustainability programs, visit:




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