$5 million to City of Tucson to help plant more trees, update on climate investments

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 10:36 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - It is a big day for nature, with millions of dollars invested into the City of Tucson to become more heat resilient.

Now, folks wonder how the funds will be used to prepare for next year.

Tucsonans experienced a summer of record-breaking heat, and many wonder if it will be as bad, if not worse, next year.

However, the City of Tucson is trying to cool down.

After receiving millions from DC, including 5 million dollars today from the US Department of Agriculture, the City of Tucson plans to invest it back into the community.

Since the announcement of the 80-million-dollar investment into climate resiliency, Tucson has made some strides in trying to cool down the city.

For example, a heat ordinance is underway to make outdoor employees like construction workers and police officers take cooling-off breaks.

The city also hired its first-ever chief resilience officer.

The position opened earlier this summer, and now, Fatima Luna holds the role and is tasked with implementing the city’s climate action plan.

“Scientists say that we are going to see more extreme weather events, including extreme heat,” said Luna.

“In other communities, you have to fight for just a general understanding that climate change is real. I do think that our community has been very supportive, very active in a lot of things, like climate action and sustainability.”

Tucson Million Trees is one program to help cool down the city. With over 100,000 trees planted, Tucson has achieved tree equity in 30 neighborhoods but still has over 400 to go.

Luckily, the US Department of Agriculture gave 5 million dollars to the City of Tucson to help plant more trees and provide shade to other parts of town.

Other programs include resiliency hubs to provide more resources to the public and educational materials to know how to stay safe in the heat.

But for Luna, creating a climate-resilient community hits a little closer to home.

“I have a family,” she said. “This is the only home my children know, so I am excited to make it even better.”

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