On September 15, 2023, it was announced that the state of California had been awarded over $102 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service to create greater urban resilience to extreme heat and climate change.
The funding will go towards planting and maintaining urban trees and creating new urban green spaces.
“As extreme temperatures increasingly threaten the safety of workers and communities all across California, expanding access to shade and green spaces is more important than ever,” said Senator Alex Padilla.
“I am proud to join Senator Feinstein in announcing these critical grants from the Forest Service, which will promote tree planting and maintenance and improve equitable access to greenery in urban neighborhoods. The Inflation Reduction Act continues to deliver major wins for California, and I will keep fighting for policies and investments that combat the climate crisis,” he added.
In total, $102,873,146 was awarded to 43 California recipients.
Notable projects in California include:
- $12 million for the City of San Francisco to plant thousands of street trees in low-canopy communities in order to mitigate extreme heat, create green jobs, and establish climate-ready neighborhoods.
- $10 million for the City of San Diego to address climate action goals and promote tree equity.
- $8 million for the City of Oakland to increase tree canopy on public and private land, preserve current canopy by addressing deferred maintenance, and provide green job opportunities.
- $8 million for the County of Los Angeles to address the urban tree canopy deficit within disadvantaged communities.
- $5 million for California State University Northridge to promote sustainable ecological practices in collaboration with Indigenous organizations to establish Tribal nurseries.
- $5 million for the City of Los Angeles Housing Authority to expand the Green Ambassador Program, conduct a tree inventory, establish an urban food forest, mitigate the urban heat island effect, and promote community education and awareness.
- $1 million for the City of Long Beach to increase equitable urban tree canopy, broaden community engagement, and strengthen Long Beach’s resilience to climate change.
- $1 million for the City of Sacramento to promote urban forest expansion, community engagement and stewardship, a parking lot greening pilot program, and community forestry workforce development and pipeline program with a focus on underserved communities.
“Planting trees is one of the best tools we have to fight climate change and protect residents from extreme heat, yet too many of our urban areas lack sufficient tree canopies,” said Senator Diane Feinstein.
“This grant funding will help more cities and towns plant and maintain trees, which in turn will filter out pollution, reduce energy consumption, lower temperatures and provide more Californians access to green spaces in their communities,” she continued.
Senator Padilla has acted urgently to address the threats posed by extreme heat as the climate crisis becomes more severe. He recently co-led the introduction of the Preventing Health Emergencies and Temperature-related (HEAT) Illness and Deaths Act with his colleagues to address the rising health risks of extreme heat, including the establishment of a $100 million federal financial assistance program to fund community projects that reduce the health impact of extreme heat events.
Padilla also recently introduced the Asunción Valdivia Heat, Illness, Injury and Fatality Prevention Act to protect the safety and health of workers who are exposed to dangerous heat conditions in the workplace.
Padilla has also been a strong advocate for expanding outdoor recreational opportunities in urban and low-income communities across the nation, introducing the bipartisan Outdoors for All Act alongside Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) earlier this year.
This new funding comes from the landmark Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and is part of the largest USDA IRA investment to date in urban and community forests.
Image via Pixabay.