Written by Samantha Miller, CVI’s Program Associate
Idaho’s “city of trees” is about to get a whole lot greener.
The Treasure Valley Canopy Network, in partnership with the City of Boise, has received a grant award of $1,076,500 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, which will be distributed over the next five years. It has been demonstrated time and time again that urban tree planting ultimately creates communities that are healthier and more resilient to climate change. The many benefits include reducing air pollution, keeping our water clean, reducing urban heat islands and subsequently decreasing our energy bills. This doesn’t even begin to address the collateral benefits of higher property values, reduced crime, and improved mental health that naturally comes with living within greener spaces. A vibrant tree canopy is a substantial asset for mitigating climate change and improving the quality of urban environments.
This USDA funding will expand on the valuable work already being accomplished for the City of Trees by the Elaine Clegg City of Trees Challenge and the Boise Tree Captains program, who have been increasing local tree planting and community engagement for years in the process of building up our urban tree canopy. The funding also serves to support the health of our urban forest by including the removal of dying and damaged trees.
Nationwide, lower-income communities and communities with predominantly people of color are most detrimentally impacted by urban heat and pollution, largely in part due to the lack of trees planted and maintained within those spaces within the urban landscape. The partnership between the City of Boise, USDA, and local organizations aims to ensure more equitable access to the benefits of an urban tree canopy, by proposing to expand tree cover for underserved communities across the Treasure Valley, in accordance with the White House’s measures for climate and economic justice.
In addition to Boise’s Treasure Valley Canopy Network, several other cities across Idaho have received significant funding towards their tree canopy goals, including Hailey, Malad, Nampa, Pocatello, Rexburg, and Soda Springs.
This funding comes from the Biden-Harris Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a historic investment in the critical climate infrastructure that our communities need. CVI, along with our partners across the Conservation Voter Movement, supported the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022 and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2021. These Acts have proven to be significant wins for conservation advocates across the country, including here in Idaho, where we will soon get to tangibly see some of the impacts of this investment, including a plethora of greener spaces in the state capitol and communities across Idaho.