Anchorage is getting hotter — we can all feel it. Much hotter. Although the changing temperature shouldn’t surprise anyone, one key factor might — a lack of trees.
A recent NPR story listed Anchorage among the most unequal cities in the country when it comes to urban trees. Even without the spruce bark beetle killing some of our biggest and best, we don’t have enough trees, and those we do have are concentrated in the wealthiest parts of the city. We need more trees!
Urban trees have additional benefits beyond reducing extreme heat. They reduce air pollution, help provide clean drinking water and improve mental health. By every measure, neighborhoods with abundant trees improve our quality of life.
Anchorage residents can help by investing in nonprofit groups like the Anchorage Park Foundation, which helps protect and improve our urban trails and habitat along our waterways. Congress can also help, by increasing funding for the Urban and Community Forestry Program at the U.S. Forest Service, a critical partner supporting this work.
— Diana K. Rhoades
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