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City of Reno receives $500,000 federal grant for tree planting initiative

A shady tree in front of a sunny park.
Flickr Creative Commons
The City of Reno plans to plant trees to create shady spaces in the community.

The City of Reno has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Forest Service to plant 132 trees near the Reno-Tahoe International Airport by 2027.

The tree planting project will be overseen by ReLEAF Reno — the city’s tree planting program.

In an effort to be self-sustaining, ReLEAF Reno will grow the trees from seed in their greenhouses and install irrigation when the adolescent trees are planted in the coming years. Part of the funding will also be used to update the greenhouse infrastructure.

City Council Member Naomi Duerr, who started ReLEAF Reno nine years ago, said these long-term investments in green infrastructure will give the trees the best chance of survival. And the trees will also help curb rising urban temperatures.

The airport location was chosen because it has been identified as one of the warmest areas in the city, Duerr said. The trees will be planted along the median and sidewalks of Airway Drive.

The ReLEAF program works with local agencies to determine which regions in the city are the warmest, focusing their planting efforts in these urban heat islands.

“We are warming dramatically. So the trees can really help us both block sun, but also provide a cooling effect around the trees,” Duerr said.

Over the past 50 years, Reno’s average summer temperature increased 11 degrees, making it the fastest warming city in the country, according to a report released by Climate Central, a nonprofit research organization.

A study by the Division of Forestry found that Reno’s urban tree canopy is at 5 percent, and that many of the city’s trees have been lost due to development.

ReLEAF Reno aims to change those numbers, with the goal of expanding the tree canopy to 10 percent by 2036.

Kat Fulwider is a student reporter for KUNR and the Hitchcock Project for Visualizing Science, which is part of the Reynolds School of Journalism.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

Kat Fulwider is an award-winning documentary photographer and journalism student attending the Reynolds School of Journalism at UNR. She is a fall 2023 student reporter at KUNR Public Radio and the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D., Project for Visualizing Science.
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