Brown Introducing Legislation to Plant More Trees, Reduce Racial Disparities Where Trees Are Located.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In recognition of Arbor Day, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) reintroduced legislation that would provide urban communities with more resources to plant more trees, with a focus on underserved neighborhoods, and fighting racial disparities in the urban tree canopy. The Neighborhood Tree Act of 2023 would create the Neighborhood Tree Fund – allocating $100 million for fiscal year 2024, $200 million for fiscal year 2025, $400 million for fiscal year 2026, $600 million for fiscal year 2027 and $700 million for fiscal year 2028. The program would be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – giving priority for the funds to those who prioritize tree planting in low-income communities or communities with lower tree canopy; have a higher maximum daytime summer temperature compared to surrounding communities; or are historically-redlined neighborhoods. Brown and Booker previously introduced the legislation in 2022.
“Trees are vital to our communities. Having more trees in your neighborhood improves air quality, supports mental and physical health, lowers energy costs, and even helps manage stormwater and prevent flooding,” said Brown. “The cleaner air and lower utility bills that comes with trees shouldn’t be an asset just for the wealthy and the privileged. Every Ohio child should be able to know the joy of climbing a tree, or sitting in the shade with a good book.”
“Trees not only improve the quality of life for residents but also help mitigate the impacts of climate change,” said Senator Booker. “By prioritizing tree planting in low-income communities and neighborhoods with historically lower tree canopy, we can improve air quality and provide shade and beauty to areas that need it most. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill that will ensure that we are planting trees where they are most needed and creating a more just and sustainable future for all Americans.”
A healthy and well-maintained urban tree canopy can provide many benefits to communities, including supporting physical and mental health, improving air quality, lowering energy costs, and managing stormwater.
Urbanized neighborhoods where a majority of residents are people of color have 33 percent less tree canopy on average than majority-white neighborhoods, and neighborhoods where most residents are low-income have 41 percent less tree cover than communities with high-income residents. Brown is introducing this legislation to fight these disparities and create more urban forests.
The legislation has been endorsed by American Forests, the National Wildlife Federation, The Davey Tree Expert Company, the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the Cleveland Tree Coalition, Holden Forests and Gardens, Sierra Club, and the Trust for Public Land.
“We must act now to counteract the negative impacts of climate change on the health of our urban forests. We are grateful to Senator Brown for his continued leadership providing tools and resources to USDA and the Forest Service to address disparities across our communities. Trees are essential infrastructure, and the Neighborhood Trees Act will propel the urban tree planting and maintenance that so many Northeast Ohio organizations are making a priority in the years to come,” said Joel Alpern, Interim Co-President & CEO of Holden Forests and Gardens.
“On behalf of the Cleveland tree coalition, we are excited to see the re-introduction of the neighborhood trees bill. Trees serve as a critical infrastructure piece that provides direct and compounding benefits that increase the quality of life for all stakeholders. It is equally essential that we prioritize the planting and preservation and communities that are historically underserved and underrepresented and experiencing negative disproportionate impacts due to the decline in the canopy. The CTC wholeheartedly supports this bill and champions Senator Sherrod Brown for all he’s done to increase awareness and resources about the importance and value of tree canopy,” said Samira Malone, Director, Cleveland Tree Coalition.
“At Davey, we know the important role trees play in our society and the valuable benefits they provide to our communities, whether that’s improving the mental and physical health of the residents of our neighborhoods, supporting our local economies, or combatting the impacts of climate change,” said Pat Covey, Chairman, President and CEO of The Davey Tree Expert Company. “In order for communities to leverage the advantages of a healthy urban forest, they have to both plant trees and care for them long-term. Growing and maintaining the urban tree canopy ensures communities will reap the rewards of the many benefits trees provide for generations to come. Davey is proud to support a program that encourages communities to foster the longevity of trees in the landscape.”
“A healthy urban forest is a keystone of a healthy community,” said Elizabeth Grace, Director of Urban Fundraising at Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “Planting and maintaining trees in neighborhoods throughout Cleveland – especially disenfranchised and underserved neighborhoods – is critical. Senator Brown understands this and has demonstrated leadership in finding resources that will help rebuild our dwindling urban forest. Together, we’re plating tens of thousands of trees and making Cleveland the Forest City once again.”
“Sierra Club applauds the reintroduction of the Neighborhood Trees Act and the investment in communities it represents. Planting trees in urban communities can help offset the impacts of climate change, heat islands and the nature equity gap in our most underserved communities. This legislation is essential to keep communities cool, healthy, and resilient to extreme weather, while providing more options for residents to experience green space,” said Robert Scott Associate Director of Federal Policy, Sierra Club.
“Senator Brown's Neighborhood Trees Act of 2023 will build upon investments made in the Inflation Reduction Act and further prioritize urban tree canopy as a comprehensive solution to the most pressing climate, health, and economic challenges facing our country,” said American Forests Vice President of Urban Forest Policy, Joel Pannell. “Our nation's historically underserved communities are suffering most from the impacts of climate change and expanded tree cover is desperately needed to improve the day to day lives of all Americans, particularly those in our most vulnerable neighborhoods. American Forests applauds Senator Brown for helping us move further toward Tree Equity.”
“The Neighborhood Trees Act will provide Ohioans and communities nationwide relief from devastating climate impacts such as extreme heat, flooding, air pollution, and biodiversity loss. By increasing tree planting efforts in communities—including those often overlooked such as underserved communities—this measure will help foster a greener, healthier, and more resilient future for all,” said Torey Carter-Conneen, CEO, American Society of Landscape Architects.
Text of the legislation can be found HERE.
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