Trees and green spaces to help mitigate extreme heat in Nevada

Photo Courtesy: Environmental Defense Fund

Press Conference at Craig Ranch Regional Park, North Las Vegas on October 13, 2023

By Emilia Pablo

October 17, 2023

Nevada’s federal and state government leaders joined forces with activists last week to celebrate new efforts to mitigate the extreme heat in Nevada.

The US Department of Agriculture Forest Service announced last month that Nevada would receive $15.7 million in federal funds from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act for urban forestry efforts aimed at protecting communities from climate change. These initiatives will include tree planting programs, urban forest improvements, and more.

Congressman Steven Horsford, who is running for reelection in District 4, a highly Latino populated area of Nevada, hosted a press conference at Craig Ranch Regional Park this past Friday to highlight the investments.

“Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act that we passed last year, billions of dollars for clean energy and climate-related projects are being invested in Nevada,” Horsford said. “This $15 million for urban forestry programs in the Las Vegas area is one more example of the critical investments that are going to historically underserved communities to help improve the health of our communities while making sure they are part of the solution for addressing climate change.”

According to the Forest Service, the city of Las Vegas will receive $5 million to help lower-income communities establish trees on private property, improve access to green infrastructure, and mitigate extreme heat. UNLV will receive $5 million for the Las Vegas Urban Forest Center, a new effort which will focus on planting trees and educating Clark County residents on tree maintenance and their importance to the environment.

North Las Vegas is also getting $1 million to improve its urban forests and reduce urban heat island impacts, while Reno is getting $500,000 to address urban heat islands and air quality.

These efforts will help combat the “heat island” effect, which can occur in developed urban areas that lack trees and greenery, and have structures such as buildings and roads that absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat. Much of Las Vegas qualifies as a heat island.

“While we all experienced the extreme heat of this past summer, we know that in BIPOC and low-income communities, the temperatures can be three to six degrees hotter,” state Senator Edgar Flores (D-Las Vegas) added. “These heat islands place seniors, children and people with health complications at higher risk of heat-related illnesses.

ImpactNV, an environmental nonprofit, will also receive $3 million for tree planting efforts, while Washoe County-based Soulful Seeds is getting $1 million to expand urban orchards in vulnerable communities. Zion United Methodist Church will also receive nearly $250,000 to create an urban food forest and plant trees in Las Vegas.

The urban forestry program is part of President Biden’s Justice 40 Initiative, which works to ensure benefits of certain federal investments reach communities that are underserved and overburdened by pollution and climate impacts.

“From extremely hot summers to the threat of wildfires to water scarcity, the climate crisis is disrupting people’s lives in Nevada,” Environmental Defense Fund Action President David Kieve said.

Climate change is an important issue, especially in Nevada, where extreme heat is harming people more than ever before.

“This funding couldn’t come at a better time,” Defend Our Future Nevada Community Organizer Mercedez Davis said. “Environmental injustice is a national crisis endangering lives, especially in communities of color and low wealth. It’s especially true in Nevada, where we average more than 20 days of dangerous heat each year, and that number is only expected to rise.”

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  • Emilia Pablo

    Emilia Pablo Bazan is The Nevadan, El Nevadense Political Correspondent. She is an alumna from U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism with over 10 years of experience working in the television news industry. She's also a former speechwriter and press officer for the Obama administration and an Emmy award recipient.

CATEGORIES: CLIMATE | POLITICS

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