Shade, leafy canopies, and cleaner air from 1,000 new trees will beautify Trenton’s cityscape thanks to a $1.3 million state grant to The Watershed Institute and its partners.
The Natural Climate Solutions grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) will increase shade and beautify 14 separate Trenton neighborhoods with predominantly low-income and minority communities. The tree plantings, which will start this spring, will continue over three years.
The grant was announced at a Jan. 18 press conference at Mill Hill Park in Trenton. The Watershed is partnering with The New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the City of Trenton, Isles, the New Jersey Tree Foundation, Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS), and the Outdoor Equity Alliance.
The grant is a meaningful step toward climate resiliency and a better environment for some overburdened Trenton communities. About 1,000 trees will be planted on city streets and in Cadwalader and Mill Hill parks where age and disease have resulted in fewer trees. By 2050, the trees are expected to sequester almost 3 million pounds of carbon dioxide, reduce 2 million gallons of stormwater runoff and intercept more than 14 million gallons of rainwater.
“The Watershed Institute is excited to be working with NJ Conservation and other partners to plant trees in Trenton,” said Jim Waltman, the Watershed’s executive director. “Trees address numerous environmental problems by soaking up floodwaters, capturing carbon dioxide from the air to protect our climate, and cooling our cities in the summer heat.”
The NJDEP’s Natural Climate Solutions Grant Program is funded by auction monies received through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Those proceeds are slated for natural resource restoration and enhancement projects that increase carbon stored in natural lands.
“These grants are providing real opportunities for our Environmental Justice communities to take meaningful steps toward climate resilience and an improved environment,” said Kandyce Perry, Director of the DEP’s Office of Environmental Justice. “While each community has differing needs and ways of getting to their goals, they each share the strong desire to help improve the quality of life for their residents.”
Perry will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Watershed Conference on consecutive Fridays, Feb. 10 and 17.
“We are excited to partner with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and plant 1,000 trees throughout Trenton,” said Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora. “We are grateful to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for investing in the Capital City, protecting our natural resources, and collaborating with us so that we can do our part in the global fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
“This grant is an investment in our city’s green infrastructure and its people. We now have an opportunity to not only plant trees, but also engage the community in the long-term care that will ensure these trees thrive for the benefit of future generations,” said New Jersey Conservation Foundation Co-Executive Director Jay Watson. “We believe this project can be transformative in our capital city where residents are experiencing disproportionate impacts of climate change. Urban neighborhoods are dealing with the ‘heat island effect’ that causes higher ambient temperatures than in suburban and rural areas.”