Submit your ‘urban forest’ photos to win U.S. Forest Service contest

Central Park, shown above, is considered the ultimate "urban forest" as it sits in the heart of New York City.

While you may dream of a picturesque backyard—dotted with mountain peaks, green trees, and acres of land for you to explore—more than 80 percent of the U.S. population resides in urban areas.

And, as our cities grow, it’s more important than ever to appreciate, conserve, and cultivate urban forests in our neighborhoods. That’s precisely the goal of the U.S. Forest Service’s “My Neighborhood Forest Photo Contest.”

Snap a digital photo of your favorite urban green space—including parks, gardens, greenways, natural areas, and more—and submit your photos at

After the contest ends July 22, three winners and 12 finalists will be selected by U.S. Forest Service judges. The “Grand Prize” winner will take home $200 worth of outdoors gear (including a daypack, trekking poles, and more); the “Runner Up” will take home $25 worth of gear; and 12 finalists will receive a U.S. Forest Service T-shirt, pen, and water bottle.

Plus, be sure to check back July 23 to place your own vote for your favorite photo capturing the beauty of urban forests. One “Popular Choice” winner (receiving the most public votes) will be awarded trekking poles, a cooler, U.S. Forest Foundation baseball hat, and more ($80 value). All winners will be announced Aug. 7.

“Our hope is that this contest will encourage kids, parents, and everyone else to look at their neighborhood trees a little differently,” says Larry Chambers, representative of the U.S. Forest Service and one of the contest’s three judges. “We like to call urban trees the hardest working trees in America because they provide us with so many benefits—they clean our air, keep our drinking water clean by capturing runoff, and they provide millions of dollars in energy savings with their shade.”

Chambers, who is a Cub Scout father himself, adds that this contest is a great reminder that Scouts “don’t have to go far to have an outdoor adventure—you can discover nature right in your own backyard.” This challenge, for Scouts and leaders of all ages, aims to give Americans extra incentive to notice the wealth of life in your own urban backyard.

(Photo of Central Park—above—courtesy of  brooks215 at