Officials announced last week that California will share in over $1 billion of federal funding allocated to all 50 states to help plant trees in an effort to cool rising temperatures and fight climate change.
The state will receive around $103 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, which in turn will be dispersed to 43 recipients across Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and other areas for tree planting and maintenance, urban canopy improvements, and other green efforts.
The funding, which stems from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act passed last year, is the act’s largest investment in urban and community green spaces, according to officials.
Those from the Biden administration said such funding is aimed at fighting climate change due to global warming.
“Unfortunately, the difficulties and challenges we’ve seen with weather are not going to go away,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was quoted in the Los Angeles Times.
“We’re going to continue to be challenged by Mother Nature, so we want to make sure that our communities are more resilient and more capable of withstanding what Mother Nature may have in store.”
Supporters of the program say the funding is arriving just in time after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Sept. 14 that last month was the planet’s warmest August on record, and that the Northern Hemisphere experienced its hottest meteorological summer to date.
Research has shown that areas with more pavement and fewer trees are hotter in temperature than greener spaces, and experts say that extreme heat kills more each year than hurricanes, tornadoes, and other weather dangers, according to data from the National Weather Service.
A group of men sit underneath a tree for shade amid a heatwave in Calexico, Calif., on Aug. 31, 2022. (Ariana Drehsler/Getty Images)
Such areas with less shady tree cover or “urban canopy,” such as parts of Los Angeles and Riverside counties have been shown to have elevated temperatures compared to areas within the same regions with more tree cover.
The largest program grant awarded in California was $12 million to the San Francisco Public Works Bureau of Urban Forestry, which aims to plant and create “thousands of street trees in low-canopy communities,” according to its project description. San Diego will receive $10 million to plant and preserve trees and promote “tree equity,” wherein the city plans to increase trees planted in lower-income areas where fewer trees are currently present, among other goals.
U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) voiced her support for the program in a recent statement, stating funding to plant trees in urban spaces in turn will “filter out pollution, reduce energy consumption, lower temperatures and provide more Californians access to green spaces in their communities.”