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TREES Act appears unlikely to be sponsored

A boy climbing a tree at Treehaven.
Courtesy of Claudio Sanchez
A boy climbing a tree at Treehaven.

Local climate activists and Parchment City Commissioners hope Congressman Fred Upton will cosponsor a bill called the TREES Act. But that hope may be in vain.

The TREES Act would give grants to American communities that want to plant more trees. It would allocate a total of $250 million over five years, with the goal of ultimately paying for at least 1.5 million trees nationwide. Mary Ann Renz of Kalamazoo is with the nonprofit Citizens’ Climate Lobby. She says parts of cities including Portage, St. Joseph and Parchment have low tree equity scores.

"That is, low tree canopy, high unemployment, low income, typically communities that have been historically redlined, so generally a high number of minority residents, and the planting of trees is really important," she says.

Renz says by cosponsoring the bill, Upton could help get it out of the House Energy Subcommittee, where he’s the ranking member. Last month Parchment passed a resolution urging Upton to do so. In an email to WMUK, a spokeswoman for Upton said he’s not opposed to the TREES Act. But, she added, he generally does not sponsor bills in his subcommittee.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.