Biden Administration awards $15M in grants for Las Vegas area to add trees, green spaces to fight climate change

Biden Administration awards $15 million in grants for Vegas area to add trees, green spaces to fight climate change
Published: Oct. 16, 2023 at 11:40 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Vegas is one of the fastest warming cities in the U.S. and the Nevada Division of Forestry and federal government are hoping they can help reverse that trend. The Biden Administration has awarded $15 million dollars in urban forestry grants, part of the Inflation Reduction Act, to accomplish that goal.

“Nevadans need no reminder that the climate crisis is real,” contended David Kieve with EDF Action, the advocacy partner of Environmental Defense Fund. Las Vegas and the southwest just experienced the hottest summer on record.

“We average more than 20 dangerous heat days per year and that number is only expected to rise,” shared Mercedes Davis, a Community Organizer with Defend our Future.

“Communities with more trees and green spaces experience improved health, including mental health, lower temperatures, and less pollution,” Davis added. The goal of the urban forestry initiative is to cool city streets, improve air quality, and enhance quality of life. There is a special focus on mitigating the effects of extreme heat on disadvantaged communities who are often most impacted. “The eastside, the northside, the City of Las Vegas…typically, those neighborhoods that are a little older, and have had less of an investment social-economically,” explained Cayenne Engel, Urban and Community Forestry Program Coordinator with the Nevada Division of Forestry.

“Too often, the people who have suffered are black, brown, Native American, that is what we call in the climate space, environmental injustice,” Kieve asserted. Wealthier neighborhoods tend to have more green space and more tree cover. They do not get as hot as urban heat islands where there’s less greenery. The goal is to add tens of thousands of trees where they are needed most.

“We know where they’re missing. We’ve done a lot of canopy mapping and we can vision where we have ten-percent tree canopy and where we have three-percent,” Engel revealed.

The urban forestry program is part of President Biden’s “Justice 40 Initiative” which works to invest in underserved communities overburdened by pollution and climate impacts. One of the groups getting grant money, Impact Nevada, aims to plant 100,000 trees in the next 10 years.