KANSAS CITY, Mo. — New federal money is helping make Kansas City more green by helping plant and maintain more trees throughout the city.
The new funds come from a $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to, “revolutionize Kansas City’s forestry and urban development approach,” according to a city press release.
The city say it’s trying to increase it’s density and strength of tree coverage by 17%.
“The key for this is it’s going to be those other ancillary things that you need to make sure the trees live,” Kansas City Manager Brian Platt said. “Watering them, maintaining them, trimming them, all of that extra support the trees need.”
Executive Director Kristin Riott said trees not only help during extreme rainfall and drought but can also help with utility bills when they’re in the right spot.
“Trees actually can play a role, especially if they’re positioned against a building in such a way, about 20 feet out on the south or western side, that can make a difference in a couple of years with peoples’ utility bills burdens in the summer time if they’re running an air conditioner,” Riott said.
Finding the best locations relies partially on heat data collected across the region that shows which communities feel the sun’s effects the most. Riott said data shows some places can be 10 degrees warmer just because there aren’t enough trees to block the sun.
“We’re getting hotter and we’re having longer periods of heat waves so we start to look at our different communities and say where are there good opportunities to plant trees,” said Bridging the Gap Director of Environmental Justice and Organizational Growth TruKechia Smith.
Places like The Paseo or Benton Boulevard show how trees can help but also where more trees are needed.
The Crossroads District, closer to downtown, could eventually add trees to its growing list of redeveloped buildings with groups like Bridging the Gap making sure they stay healthy.
“We have a watering plan and we engage volunteers that live nearby those trees to help water in many cases,” Riott said.
Bridging the Gap is planting 30 new trees this weekend between 9 a.m. and noon at McCoy Park at 1524 White Ave., Kansas City, MO. You can sign up to volunteer here.