News, Culture and NPR for Central & Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
91.7FM Alpena and WCML-TV Channel 6 Alpena are off the air. Click here to learn more.

USDA and Sierra Club highlight urban forestry in Lansing visit

Environmental advocates and forestry students went to Ferris Park in Lansing to speak with Forestry Service officials.
Arjun Thakkar
/
WKAR-MSU
Environmental advocates and forestry students went to Ferris Park in Lansing to speak with Forestry Service officials.

The U.S. Forestry Service made a stop in Lansing Tuesday to promote federal initiatives to develop urban parks and green spaces.

Representatives with the U.S. Department of Agriculture walked with climate advocates and forestry students around Ferris Park near downtown Lansing. The group highlighted the importance of tree canopies, which provide shade and limit heat exposure.

The Biden administration is distributing $1.5 billion across the country to support urban forestry.

Speaking in Ferris Park, USDA Undersecretary Homer Wilkes said the program will have a natural cooling effect while creating green spaces for recreation.

“It's a good place for mental health, for physical health. They can walk this park. They can actually think and be cool," Wilkes said. "We can't air condition our way out, it's going to have to be a tree canopy in order to have that for the sustainability.”

Urban forests can help communities respond to climate change by mitigating floods and reducing the heat index.

Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous said the program will also create more spaces for people to gather.

"We as a country have decided to prioritize urban forestry for the first time in many generations," Jealous said. "There were so many years where trees were seen as a hinderance to public safety. And now of course, the social science tells us it's just the opposite."

“The way that you maximize the value of the place is you have more trees, and you have more shade, and you have more places for family to put down a blanket and gather in the summer," he added.

More than $32 million in federal urban forestry grants are heading to Michigan. Lansing is receiving $5 million to preserve and expand the city’s tree canopy.

Copyright 2024 WKAR Public Media

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
Related Content