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City of Las Vegas plans to plant 60,000 trees to combat urban heat island effect

Development has made the city hotter in certain areas. Concrete and asphalt retain more heat than the original desert landscape would.
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 9:40 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Las Vegas City Hall is taking on a growing problem: The urban heat island effect.

Development has made the city hotter in certain areas. Concrete and asphalt retain more heat than the original desert landscape would.

“The Downtown Core and the neighborhoods immediately surrounding Downtown Las Vegas have been the ones that we have found that have the higher temperatures,” said Marco Velotta, with the City of Las Vegas Planning Department.

Heat absorbed during the day slowly releases into the atmosphere at night, raising the overall surface temperature one to seven degrees higher than temperatures in outlying areas.

The city plans to plant more than 60,000 trees over the next 30 years to provide shade and bring temperatures down in areas most impacted by the urban heat island effect.

“The tree canopy helps cool the environment down several degrees,” Velotta said.

At Gary Reese Freedom Park, 50 plus trees have already been planted in another area of the city made hotter by urban development.

“We’ve noticed based on thermal imaging and geographic system mapping, East Las Vegas has some of the highest rates of increases in temperatures. That is also where we have a lot of minority and low-income communities,” Velotta said.

The more trees the better to bring temperatures down, but the water shortage must also be considered.

“We want to ensure that we have drought tolerant trees and species that are adaptive to the heat,” Velotta said.

According to new numbers from Climate Central, Las Vegas is the second fastest warming city in the country since 1970, up nearly six degrees on average.

Corporations have donated to tens of thousands of dollars to pay for the planting of tens of thousands of trees in Las Vegas.

If you would like to help plant them visit https://mayorsfundlv.org/Initiatives/tree-initiative to learn more.