Tempe Launches New Sustainable Projects to Expand Tree Canopy, Food Access

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The Tempe City Council recently approved the use of federal and state grant funding for new city programs that will benefit Tempe neighborhoods that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Tempe CouncilTempe Council

(Facebook Photo/City of Tempe Government)

The new project, called Growing Together: A Tree Stewardship & Workforce Development Program, will expand local tree canopy, establish two public food forests and provide workforce development opportunities to community members in the Alegre, Victory Acres, University Heights, and Escalante neighborhoods and the Town of Guadalupe.

“The goal of this project is to promote community wealth-building, equitable urban cooling and resilience to extreme heat. It’s driven by Tempe’s previous research on heat vulnerability and recent investments in local food, green stormwater infrastructure, urban forestry, and neighborhood heat resilience,” Mayor Corey Woods said. “These human-centered, nature-based solutions will expand tree canopy coverage, create economic opportunity, and promote food access while centering community neighborhoods that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.”

The selected communities are derived from Tempe’s Justice40 Zones. Justice40 is a White House initiative that aims for 40% of all federal funding to support disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution. Justice40 Zones are pre-identified, disadvantaged communities that are marginalized and overburdened by pollution and underinvestment, according to White House data.

Tempe’s Growing Together: A Tree Stewardship & Workforce Development Program will serve Tempe’s Justice40 zones using $1.6 million in grant funding from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Forest Service and AZ Department of Forestry and Fire Management (DFFM) over approximately 3 years. Three new city programs will launch during this time:

Community Tree Stewards Program

This program will pay community members as Community Tree Stewards to help grow, distribute and maintain native and desert-adapted trees in neighborhoods with low tree canopy coverage and high levels of heat vulnerability. Community Tree Stewards will help to coordinate the planting, maintenance, and tracking of the trees in their neighborhoods through community outreach and education. These neighborhood greening efforts will provide cooling benefits while creating opportunities for professional development. The grant funding will provide $40,000 in scholarships and professional training or certification for those participating in the Community Tree Stewards Program. Tempe will begin recruiting for the first cohort later this fall.

School Greening & Grounds Maintenance Program

Schools are assets to every neighborhood and play a critical role in building resilience throughout Tempe. Expanding on past investments in these trusted institutions, this program will work with school district administration and field staff to plant trees and install green infrastructure on school campuses while creating opportunities for professional development. Tempe will hire and train School Greening & Grounds Maintenance specialists and technicians, who will provide additional staff capacity to plant and maintain trees at schools that serve residents of the target neighborhoods.

Food Forest Pilot Program

Tempe will work with nearby community members and organizations to establish two community food forests. These forests will grow food for community members while utilizing sustainable growing practices, like incorporating native edible plants and using green stormwater infrastructure to capture rainwater. A local community organization will be contracted to maintain the sites, providing additional job opportunities within the local urban forestry industry.

“Tempe continues to invest in green infrastructure and programs that address increasing heat and drought while improving quality of life for all,” Sustainability and Resilience Director Eric Iwersen said. “Because these programs empower our residents to be trained tree and food access professionals, it also simultaneously builds partnerships that help to exponentially amplify the message across the community.”

This project is just the latest commitment to Tempe’s many ongoing sustainability and resiliency initiatives. Recently, Tempe has adopted green building codes, invited the community to participate in resilience planning and progressed its goal of using 100% renewable energy for city facilities. Learn more about Tempe’s dedication to growing a sustainable and resilient city at tempe.gov/SustainableTempe.

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Staff , www.signalsaz.com
Signals AZ , 2024-03-17 14:00:03
Categories: Phoenix,City of Tempe,sustainable,Tempe

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