Brooklyn Boro

Money flows to US communities in need of trees

April 21, 2023 Susan Haigh, Associated Press
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Tree planting in U.S. cities is nothing new. The first trees were planted in 1858 in what became New York City’s beloved Central Park. Today there are more than 20,000 trees growing throughout the famous park’s 843 acres, which provide a respite from urban life to more than 42 million visitors annually.

While many people love the beauty and cooling canopy of urban trees, it has often been left to nonprofit organizations, and state and local governments to cover the cost of planting and caring for trees in American cities. The federal budget, in recent years, has typically included roughly $36 million a year for the U.S. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program, money that’s supposed to be distributed across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

But that is all changing. The federal government is now funding tree-planting and tree-care projects in a huge way. President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act makes a historic $1.5 billion investment in urban forestry, prioritizing projects that benefit underserved communities. That’s in addition to funding included for tree projects in Biden’s infrastructure law and the COVID-19 relief legislation known as the American Rescue Plan.

Tree advocates see this massive investment as a game-changer for urban communities that suffer from dirtier air, dangerously high temperatures and other challenges because they lack a leafy canopy overhead.

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