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A Historic Investment in Urban Trees Underway Across the United States

Ameen Taylor feels lucky because her front and back yards are lined with cool trees. Detroit He knows it’s a different story for many residents of his hometown, who often have little or no shade in their neighborhoods.

“For me, 70 degrees is fine weather, but when you’re walking somewhere, or you’re walking in a treeless neighborhood, it feels like 87 to 90 degrees. That’s what it feels like,” Taylor said. . “You are exposed to more sun than shade.”

Parts of Detroit, like many cities in the United States, are densely packed with large amounts of impervious surfaces and heat-absorbing infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Combined with low levels of cooling tree cover or canopy, it can be dangerously hotter than suburban areas.

Such tree cover injustice is behind the president’s historic $1.5 billion. Joe BidenThe Inflation Reduction Act is reserved for the Federal Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program to fund plantation projects over the next decade. The initiative focuses on underserved communities, a significant increase from the approximately $36 million annually allocated to the program. More multi-million dollar tree projects are now available from Biden’s Infrastructure Act and COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Advocates of urban forestry, who have spent years debating the benefits of trees in cities, take this moment to mean that the lack of a lush canopy leads to dirtier air, dangerously high temperatures, and other challenges. We see it as an opportunity to transform underserved communities that have been working hard. overhead. Advocates also predict that this is the beginning of a long-term financial commitment to trees, especially amid dire warnings from scientists about global warming.

“A street tree is more than just time. In many ways, this is more than just a moment in the sun. I believe this is the new normal,” said Dan Lambe, Supreme, Arbor Day Foundation. CEO said. Lambe said a large federal investment recognizes that trees are vital to the community.

wood It absorbs heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reducing erosion and flooding. Given that heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the United States, they are believed to have helped save lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont suggested spending $500,000 on the remaining COVID-19 relief funds. This funding, which we hope will be complemented by new federal funds, will hopefully cover the cost of planting trees in underserved urban areas.

“I just drive across the state. Hartford, imagine there are only 30 trees in this glade. Imagine what it means for clean air, beauty and shade. Only a quarter of the 11,490 acres are crowned.

According to Lauren Marshall, senior manager of program innovation at the Arbor Day Foundation, historically red-lined cities like Hartford have seen banks refuse or avoid providing loans because of their racial makeup. However, it is said that the temperature is up to 13 degrees higher than the areas not drawn in red. With less access to nature, many residents of these communities did not have the option of escaping the heat and socially moving outside to cool, shady locations during the pandemic.

“I remember spending a lot of time outdoors in the summer of 2020 because it was the only way I could see my loved ones. And I live in a neighborhood with a lot of tree canopy,” she said. said.

Marshall said the pandemic, combined with the racial reckoning caused by the murder of George Floyd, has brought a lot of attention to the issue of tree canopy inequality. We use our Tree Equity Score Analyzer to target neighborhood plantations that are most in need.

“Overall, in every state, and in ours, we are not investing enough in our urban canopy,” said Hilary Frantz, Washington state public lands commissioner. Natural Areas, an initiative funded in part by federal funds.

The City of Seattle will also require the planting of three trees for every healthy healthy tree removed from city property.

Some communities plan to use federal funds to maintain trees and develop a workforce to care for them. This is especially true where workers have barriers to employment, such as criminal records. Joel Panel, vice president of urban forest policy at American Forest, said the country’s current pool of tree management workers is aging and more workers are needed. It is also mostly dominated by white men.

“With people retiring and out of the workforce, there is a huge need to get new executives to represent the communities where the work needs to be done.

Originally from Detroit, Taylor is one of 300 workers who will plant 75,000 trees in the Motor City over the next five years. On Wednesday, he helped plant 12 maple trees and carefully hand-dug holes to avoid underground wires. I have.

“It just looks like it’s without trees,” he said.

Planting trees in urban areas is nothing new. In 2007, former New York City Mayor Michael He Bloomberg launched a successful initiative to plant one million trees. Former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa launched a similar effort to plant one million trees by the end of his first term in 2009, but with water and care largely left to residents. Many died because they had to plant them on private land.

The cost of Biden’s tree-planting program has received political backlash from lawmakers who likened it to spending on pig barrels.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida last year criticized the anti-inflation law as having “nothing to do with what people in the real world care about,” citing tree planting as an example.

“This is good,” he said sarcastically. “A lot of people worry about this. He needs $1.5 billion to plant more trees. Anything.”

Lora Martens, urban tree program manager for Phoenix’s Department of Heat Management and Mitigation, admitted that the amount of available funding is “a bit wild.” Last summer saw the highest number of heat stroke deaths in Arizona’s largest county.

Phoenix wants to expand the shady, mile-long “Cool Corridor” pathway. Initiate more neighborhood plantings on private land. Long-term maintenance of urban “urban forests”. We are also working with other community and state nursery associations to address labor shortages to tend trees.

A key goal is also to nearly double the tree canopy in underserved areas of the city, according to Martens.

Brittany Peake knows firsthand how trees transform their neighborhoods. Her three-bedroom home, which she purchased in Greer, South Carolina, through an affordable housing program, had no trees on the property, a former mobile home community.

Last year, the nonprofit TreesUpstate asked Peake if she would like to participate in a free tree-planting program. Currently, her property is planted with five trees, including Marsh’s White Her Oak, which has already reached six feet in height. Ms. Peake says she looks forward to seeing the birds nest in the tree, and she expects at least one of her four children to eventually scale that branch.

“My husband actually said he climbed two oak trees when he was a kid,” she said.

___

Associate Press Writers Mike Householder (Detroit) and Manuel Valdes (Seattle) contributed to this report.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/ap-detroit-joe-biden-hartford-trees-b2324290.html A Historic Investment in Urban Trees Underway Across the United States

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