Nevada Lawmakers and Division of Forestry Highlight Federal Investments in Urban Forestry to Combat Heat Islands in Las Vegas
Trees, Green Spaces Will Help Mitigate Extreme Heat and Address Climate Change
LAS VEGAS – State Senator Edgar Flores, Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno and the Nevada Division of Forestry today joined EDF Action, Defend our Future and several urban forestry grant recipients for a news conference to highlight $15 million in federal grants to state and community groups to expand access to green spaces and trees in Las Vegas.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, with funds made available through the Inflation Reduction Act, awarded these grants to seven nonprofits and cities to help expand the tree canopy in the Las Vegas area and mitigate the effects of urban heat islands for disadvantaged communities. Additionally, the Nevada Division of Forestry in September announced $2 million in state funding for urban forestry projects.
The funding comes after Las Vegas and the Southwest experienced the hottest summer on record. Investments in urban forestry are critical for cooling city streets, improving air quality and enhancing the quality of life in communities. 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.
Amber Bosket, Zion Methodist Church’s Director of Urban Agriculture Technical Assistance, and Lisa Ortega, Master Arborist and adjunct faculty member at UNLV’s School of Architecture, were featured at the event. Both said the grants that their programs received will support efforts to increase accessible green spaces across Las Vegas.
“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,” Congressman Steven 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.”
“From extremely hot summers to the threat of wildfires to water scarcity, the climate crisis is disrupting people’s lives in Nevada,” EDF Action President David Kieve said. “Thanks to President Biden’s clean energy plan and the support of leaders like Congressman Horsford, Nevada has the opportunity to secure its leadership role in our efforts to transition to a clean energy future while creating good-paying jobs and lowering energy costs for families. Everything from urban forestry to clean energy is critical to helping combat climate change, and we are thrilled to be in Nevada today with Representative Horsford and others to highlight the importance of these programs.”
“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 said. “These heat islands place seniors, children and people with health complications at higher risk of heat-related illnesses. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, this new federal funding for urban forestry programs will lower temperatures in underserved communities while also reducing the carbon pollution that is fueling the climate crisis.”
“When we think of urban infrastructure, we often think of roads, bridges and water pipes. But, as we work to address the climate crisis, we need to start thinking of infrastructure on a broader scale,” state Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno said. “And that includes our urban tree canopy, which can help reduce carbon, cool down temperatures and provide a healthier place for our residents to live. That’s why I’m so excited about the $1 million in federal urban forestry grants for the City of North Las Vegas that will help strengthen our communities for the long term.”
“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.”
“Nevada’s urban forests are essential for city well-being, but funding has been lacking,” Cayenne Engel, Nevada Division of Forestry Urban and Community Forestry Program Coordinator said. “The recent $15 million from the Inflation Reduction Act signifies a historic vote of confidence by the federal government in cities like Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and Reno, as well as partners like UNLV, Impact NV, and Zion Methodist Church. This funding will bolster urban forestry programs, supporting the collective vision that the Nevada Division of Forestry and these organizations share, that resilient urban canopies matter and can improve lives.”