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Phoenix to expand shade tree programs with $10 million federal investment

Mayor Kate Gallego says the money will go to the city's existing shade tree planting programs.

PHOENIX — Phoenix is getting more shade to beat the heat with a $10 million federal grant for city tree-planting programs.

Residents will get to enjoy more shade trees, cooler community spaces and -- if all goes as planned -- reductions to their energy bills. The money will be used to bolster the existing Community Canopy and Canopy for Kids grant programs, Mayor Kate Gallego said.

RELATED: Feds spread $1 billion for tree plantings among US cities to reduce extreme heat and benefit health

"The $10 million that the city is receiving will help us with our Canopy for Kids program, which can plant trees at public schools," she explained. "You can have recess in a cooler, more comfortable environment."

"We also have the Community Canopy program, which allows nonprofits, neighborhood associations and more to plant trees. We're hoping this will cool our city and create beautiful shaded corridors."

Cool corridors are walkways and roads with ample tree cover; They're one of the tools that Phoenix is using to crack our urban heat island and protect residents from steadily climbing global temperatures

RELATED: Urban saguaros are dropping dead from extreme heat: Here's how to save one on your property

The city found that most tree coverage is currently clustered in wealthier areas, and Mayor Gallego said she wants to change that.

"We took a pledge with American Forests to address tree equity. We're the first city in the country to do that!" She said. "We're really trying to track data and make sure that everyone in our city has access to the amazing benefits from shade trees."

Both grant programs will plant native and drought-resistant trees such as mesquite, Chinese pistache, or desert acacia. Likewise, they'll avoid water-hungry trees like palms.

The money comes from a $1.13 billion investment that U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Thursday morning. As part of the Inflation Reduction Act, similar investments are expected  moving forward.

"We are very excited about the potential to have a good boom in shade trees. I'm really looking forward to it, personally. I know this is going to contribute a lot to just being able to be outside and enjoy our outdoors."

If you're interested in applying for a shade tree planting, you can visit the city's Office of Heat Response and Mitigation website for more information.

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