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Minneapolis city officials are pushing ahead with plans to use $1 million from the American Rescue Plan to expand the urban tree canopy.

A release on Monday stated the money will help jump-start the Green Minneapolis Climate Resiliency Initiative goal, adding 200,000 new trees to the existing 600,00 under the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board management in the city. 

The move was announced by Mayor Jacob Frey during his State of the City address, and will see the city, the parks board, and Green Minneapolis collaborate on the plan, the goal of which is to have the trees planted by the year 2040.

"Green Minneapolis will lead collaboration with the MPRB to add and maintain trees that will mitigate the City’s major heat islands – North and South Green Zones and Downtown – and equalize tree canopy coverage across environmentally disadvantaged parts of the city," the MPRB stated, in part.

The American Rescue Act was passed by federal lawmakers, assisting local government agencies with the economic downfall during the pandemic. Cities in Minnesota received $500 million to use in a multitude of ways. 

MPRB Superintendent Al Bangoura said the board has been working to "build a more diverse, resilient tree canopy" throughout the city due to a recent emerald ash borer infestation.

“We can keep that momentum going with this ARPA funding in support of the Green Minneapolis Climate Resiliency Initiative,” he said in the announcement. “It allows MPRB to plant a total of 18,000 trees in 2023 and 2024, with a focus on the Green Zones. That’s triple the number we’d be planting with only MPRB general funds.”

According to research conducted by MPRB, each city taxpayer saves around $100 a year from trees being on public property. Trees process about 200 million gallons of water each year, saving up to $6 million in stormwater management costs.

In addition, urban forestation improves quality of life for residents, increases property values, lowers heating and air conditioning costs, prevents erosion and provides wildlife with habitats. 

Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board President Meg Forney stated that a key goal included in this movement is to reduce MPRB's carbon footprint. She said that the organization's first carbon-accounting report, completed three years ago, showed an organization-wide baseline for greenhouse gas emissions.

"We surpassed our 10% reduction goal in just four years!" Forney said in a release. "Now we are setting a new, ambitious goal for the next four years."

The partnership between the parks and recreation board, the city and Green Minneapolis is part of the latter's Twin Cities Climate Resiliency Initiative. The plan is to focus on expanding the urban tree canopy across the seven-county Twin Cities metro area. 

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