U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer delivered on his promise securing $3 million in federal funding for the City of Rochester to work toward the City’s goal of planting 6,000 new trees across the city through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry grants program. Schumer personally called USDA Secretary Vilsack to advocate for the Rochester project after meeting with community leaders on the importance of the funding. The senator on Thursday said this federal investment will finally get to the root cause of the systemic economic and health inequalities that have resulted from inequitable tree canopy cover in Rochester by greatly expanding the city’s tree coverage and breathing new life into areas that currently lack green space.
“I promised to help Rochester neighborhoods find their spot in the shade and plant the seeds for a brighter future, and now I am proud to say a promise made is now a promise kept with Rochester as one of the first in the nation to tap the historic funding I secured in the Inflation Reduction Act to plant thousands of news trees across the city. This critical $3 million federal investment is more than just thousands of new luscious, vibrant trees – it means cleaner air, a better environment, improved quality of life, and rooting out historic inequities that have been seen across Rochester neighborhoods,” said Senator Schumer. “I fought hard to plant this funding in the Inflation Reduction Act so that places like Rochester, and cities across Upstate New York, could have access to the funding they have long needed to breathe new life into our most underserved neighborhoods. Now a greener, healthier, and more equitable Rochester will finally take root and blossom.”
Schumer explained that in Rochester, the difference in canopy cover ― the amount of an area covered by trees, as seen from above ― differs by more than 30 percent from the most tree-covered neighborhood to the least. The senator said that when a neighborhood lacks trees it can lead to a variety of problems, from increased air pollution, urban heat islands, to poor health outcomes, which are on top of negative economic impacts like decreased property values. For years, Rochester has struggled to add trees and green space, in large part due to a lack of funding. In the last four-year period, from 2018 to 2021, the city planted 2,335 new trees but removed 2,771, a net loss of 436. Schumer said that the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest investment in fighting climate change, which he led to passage as Majority Leader has finally created the robust funding needed to tackle this problem in Rochester and other cities across New York.