Fresno organization planting more trees in Valley to help reduce heat-related illnesses

A recent study suggests planting more trees in cities could lead to fewer people dying from the summer heat.

Amanda Aguilar Image
Friday, February 17, 2023
Fresno organization planting more trees in Valley to help reduce heat-related illnesses
Summer temperatures can climb past 110 degrees in the Central Valley.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- An organization in Fresno is leading the effort to add more green across the Valley.

A recent study suggests planting more trees in cities could lead to fewer people dying from the summer heat.

Summer temperatures can climb past 110 degrees in the Central Valley. The heat keeps first responders busy.

"When you get the stretches of 110-112 degree days -- whether it be for three to seven days -- is when you typically see the most responses for heat related illnesses," shared Michael Estrada, Fresno Co. operation manager for American Ambulance.

A study, done by the Institute for Global Health, shows tree cover can cool down cities by almost 40 degrees and reduce heat-related deaths by 40%.

Tree Fresno has long recognized the benefit of trees and is already working on planting hundreds across the Valley -- with a strong focus on disadvantaged areas.

"When you have 2 million people who move into the Valley, then you need more trees," said CEO Mona Nyandoro Cummings. "That's the purpose of Tree Fresno, is to make sure that we're planting trees to improve the environment, the conditions, especially the urban conditions that people are living in residential neighborhoods and communities."

At Malaga Recreation Center in Fresno County, Tree Fresno planted more than 100 trees at the end of 2022.

The trees look tiny now but will soon grow into a tree canopy for the area, providing shade to people walking or jogging along the trail.

According to Cummings, trees also have environmental benefits.

"You have industry in this area. So you know trees pull double duty and they're actually pulling those pollutants from the air," she explained.

Trees can also provide relief to Californians struggling with high utility bills.

"Because of the lowering of the temperatures, they can actually reduce how much people pay on their utility bills, which is quite important," Cummings said.

Since 1985, Tree Fresno has planted 52,000 trees across the Valley.

Just recently, the City of Fresno passed an ordinance that calls for the planting of a thousand trees per year.

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