MILWAUKEE — On a hot summer day, we all appreciate the shade of a tree. But trees do much more than just provide relief from the sun, they create a healthy environment for all of us.
"Trees can really be a valuable asset in neighborhoods from the standpoint of improving air quality, mediating heat stress in neighborhoods, rainfall, and stormwater management," said Milwaukee Forestry Services Manager Randy Krouse.
Unfortunately, the benefits of a lush tree canopy aren't felt equally across Milwaukee. An interactive map from treeequityscore.org breaks down where Milwaukee could use more trees. A score of 100 means a neighborhood has enough trees. But the more orange you see on the map, the greater the need.
Krouse said the neighborhoods that typically are in need of more trees are "a neighborhood that has a low population of mature trees, a neighborhood that might be low income and needs help paying for trees, neighborhoods that suffer from heat stress, potential flooding."
Now Krouse and his team have launched a new initiative through the Urban Forestry Fund. Milwaukee residents can apply for funds to plant 10 to 50 trees in their neighborhood.
Anyone from any neighborhood is welcome to apply. However, the fund will be prioritizing underserved communities with a lower tree equity score.
Neighborhoods that tend to have lower tree equity scores also happen to be where there's a high number of people of color.
Krouse identified Franklin Heights, Harambee, Lincoln Creek, Midtown, Clarke Square, and Historic Mitchell Street as priority areas, "to provide opportunities for neighborhoods to apply for funding to do community tree planting programs."
Achieving tree equity across the city can help improve public health, water, air quality, climate, and well-being according to Tree Equity Score.
There's an interest form on the Urban Forest Fund's website for those interested in applying to plant trees in their neighborhood.
"We also need a good community engagement involved in that because it would be the actual community members that would plant the trees and maintain the trees," Krouse said.
The fund would cover the cost of the trees. To apply to plant trees in your neighborhood, click here.
It’s about time to watch on your time. Stream local news and weather 24/7 by searching for “TMJ4” on your device.