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DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn and Mayor Eddie Moran announce tree-planting grants

Trees are crucial for physical and mental health, they improve people’s lives in many ways, including by cleaning the air, preventing flooding and reducing temperatures.

But not all communities have access to this benefit, particularly those that are underserved, said Cindy Adams Dunn, secretary of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“We’ve heard too long about this need,” Adams Dunn said. “They’ve been overlooked and under invested in and the science and data show that again and again.”

That’s why a federal infusion of $4 million to DCNR from President Joe Biden’s administration is so crucial, she said. The funds will be available specifically to qualifying underserved communities for tree planting.

Adams Dunn joined Mayor Eddie Moran, city and state elected officials and others Friday in Schlegel Park for an event highlighting grant opportunities for planting trees in underserved communities, including Reading.

In addition to Adams Dunn and Moran, speakers included Orsolya Lazar, a certified arborist and tree specialist with the DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry; state Sen. Judy Schwank; and state Rep. Manny Guzman.

DCNR community liaison Margarita Caicedo of Reading delivered a Spanish translation of Adams Dunn’s speech.

Although the DCNR’s Community Conservation Partnerships Program has offered similar tree-planting grants to underserved communities, including Reading, for several years, those grants required a 50% match, said Christina Novak, director of DCNR’s office of communications. Thanks to the federal infusion for this round of funding, no match is required.

The grants are available to qualifying municipalities and nonprofits, she said. The trees must be planted in public or publicly accessible areas, she noted, and projects must cost $50,000 or more.

“I am delighted to share that over the years, we have been the fortunate recipient of four grants totaling just under $1 million,” Moran said. “These grants have played a crucial role in the transformation of green spaces here Reading.”

Public parks that have benefitted include the Third and Spruce Recreation Center and the Reading Skate Park, now under construction at South Sixth and Canal streets.

“The importance of trees and recreation to the health and well-being of all cannot be overstated,” the mayor said. “Trees provide shade, improve our quality of life, quality of air and create a sense of tranquility in our city. They are essential for our physical and mental health.”

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn describes how the $4 million in community tree grants will benefit underserved communities. State and city officials attended the announcement Friday in Schlegel Park. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn describes how the $4 million in community tree grants will benefit underserved communities. State and city officials attended the announcement Friday in Schlegel Park. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

This initiative ensures that more of the city’s residents, especially those living in underserved areas can enjoy these benefits, he said.

Public parks and recreation centers serve as gathering spaces and foster social connections and community spirit, Moran said, noting they also promote active lifestyles, all of which contribute to the overall health and well-being of the city’s residents.

“The mayor mentioned the many, many benefits of trees,” Adams Dunn said, “and I’ll mention a few more.”

Trees help filter and clean the air by capturing carbon and removing pollutants, she said, noting air pollution is a leading cause of premature death.

Trees also can help prevent or lessen flooding by absorbing floodwaters, she said. They also help blunt the impacts of a changing climate and help cool city streets.

When most people think about deadly weather events, they think about hurricanes and tornadoes, Adams Dunn said.

“But the number one weather related deadly effect is urban heat, summer heat” she said, “when a heat dome settles over an urban community and that concrete holds the heat and magnifies the heat.”

One study in Philadelphia, she noted, showed that neighborhoods that have a higher density of concrete and few or no trees are 22 degrees hotter than communities with tree lined streets.

“And so this (the grant program) can save lives,” she said. “Trees can save lives in denser parts of an urban community.”

Trees also have been found to reduce stress and lower blood pressure, Adams Dunn noted.

“I think we all know, we’re happier around trees,” she said. “I mean, you just can feel it.”

They also help beautify communities and the landscape and can help raise property values, she noted.

But those who live in underinvested places, she said, are burdened by the effects of pollution, extra heat, lower property values and the many other negative effects of not having a green community.

“So we’re obviously very excited to be here to announce this grant for Reading and the other communities,” Adams Dunn said. “We think it’ll be transformative in helping to improve people’s lives.”

For more information, contact the DCNR at www.dcnr.pa.gov/pages/contact-us.aspx.


Source: Berkshire mont

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