The U.S. Forest Service today began its My Neighborhood Forest photo contest, celebrating America’s urban and community forests.
The grand prize winner will receive $200 in outdoor gear from the National Forest Foundation.
The contest, which runs Wednesday-July 22, is meant to draw attention to the natural beauty that spring and summer bring to U.S. neighborhoods, communities and cities, as well as the crucial role of trees in the places we call home.
Those interested in competing should visit the contest website for more details on the prizes and contest rules.
While the entries will be judged, the public also will be allowed to vote for their favorites from July 23-Aug. 6. The winners will be announced Aug. 7.
To be considered for a prize, all photos must contain trees and nature and an urban or community setting, according to the rules.
Urban forests broadly include urban parks, street trees, landscaped boulevards, public gardens, river and coastal promenades, greenways, river corridors, wetlands, nature preserves, natural areas, shelter belts of trees and working trees at industrial brownfield sites, said a Forest Service news release.
“Urban forests are different from the forests you might normally think of, but they are functioning, hard-working ecosystems just the same,” Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in the release. “As our neighborhoods warm up, trees add a crucial element of beauty to the places where we live, learn and work. We hope this photo contest will encourage people to go outside this season, and maybe they’ll learn a little more about their own neighborhood forests in the process.”
With 80 percent of the nation’s population in urban areas, there are strong environmental, social, and economic cases to be made for the conservation of green spaces to guide growth and revitalize city centers and older suburbs, he said.
Urban forests, through planned connections of green spaces, form the green infrastructure system on which communities depend. This natural life support system sustains clean air and water, biodiversity, habitat, nesting and travel corridors for wildlife, and connects people to nature.