The City of Tucson has successfully won a competitive, $5 million urban forestry grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to invest in Tucson neighborhoods on the frontlines of climate change.
The grant, Grow Tucson—A Community-Led Urban Forestry Proposal in Tucson, will help create more green spaces, invest in workforce development, and support community engagement to ensure the benefits of trees are equitably distributed. The grant relies on the City’s Tree Equity Mapping tool and the work of the city’s first urban forestry manager to support the Tucson Million Trees initiative, a part of the Climate Action Plan, Tucson Resilient Together.
“This grant is another great example of how we are aggressively going after federal dollars to implement our climate action plan,” said Tucson Mayor Regina Romero. “It will ensure that the benefits of trees are reaching our most vulnerable residents: our seniors, children, and low-income communities. They are already feeling the effects of extreme heat. I want to thank the Biden-Harris Administration and Arizona’s Congressional delegation who voted to fund the Inflation Reduction Act. It is making critical investments like this in our community possible.”
“Arizonans experienced our hottest summer on record as result of climate change, and now, more than ever, we need ways to mitigate and reduce its impacts in our urban centers. The City of Tucson’s community-led and climate justice-focused urban forestry plan will increase the resiliency of vulnerable and environmental justice communities, create vital green spaces and spur sustainable economic opportunity. I’m proud to see this important funding provided by Congressional Democrats allocated to improve our community,” said Congressman Raúl Grijalva.
The implementation of Tucson Resilient Together, the City’s Climate Action Plan, is led by Tucson’s Climate Action Team and relies heavily on nature-based solutions, like trees, that eliminate greenhouse gases. The City of Tucson’s Tree Equity Mapping Tool will be used to help project partners engage with climate and frontline neighborhoods to co-plan, build, and care for community green spaces that nurture and nourish Tucson’s most heat vulnerable residents.
The grant also includes a youth workforce development component to help Tucson create the green jobs of the future and develop the next generation of tree leaders to advocate and care for our urban forests. It includes funding for partner organizations to create arborist certifications and trainings on a wide range of sustainability skills.
“I am incredibly excited, energized and grateful for this opportunity to super charge the Mayor’s Tucson Million Trees program and invest directly in our neighborhoods and communities with this historic federal program,” said Nicole Gillette, City of Tucson urban forestry manager. “Grow Tucson is a partner initiative between the City, local organizations, and our local neighborhoods – and will be a rare opportunity to fund tree planting and green infrastructure projects at the local scale like never before. I cannot wait to work with residents citywide to grow a greener Tucson.”
The grant is a partnership between the City of Tucson, Tucson Clean & Beautiful, Tucson Audubon Society, Iskashitaa Refugee Network, Sonora Environmental Research Institute, and Watershed Management Group.
The grant is part of a $1 billion investment from the USDA, directing the U.S. Forest Service to create historic investments to increase the nation’s tree cover in urban, suburban and rural communities.