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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

New online tool helps Boston grow tree equity

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Tuesday, February 20, 2024   

A new online tool is helping community groups in Boston ensure all neighborhoods reap the benefits from urban tree canopies. The Tree Equity Score Analyzer, or TESA, was created by the national nonprofit, American Forests to help communities study disparities in tree coverage and develop planting scenarios, one census block at a time.

David Meshoulam, executive director of Speak for the Trees Boston, said trees provide numerous environmental and health benefits.

"We need to find ways to increase canopy, especially in communities that are most vulnerable to climate change that are going to face the burden of a hotter and dirtier environment," he said.

Meshoulam added increasing tree cover will help reduce the severity of so-called heat islands by naturally cooling entire blocks, and that the online tool helps analyze where plantings will have the greatest impact.

The TESA tool integrates data from urban areas across the country, including building density, temperature, existing tree canopy and more. Already groups in Boston, Providence and several other cities have used it to create plans they can bring to government agencies and nonprofits to request funding. Meshoulam said students at Boston Green Academy High School trained their fellow students to use TESA, exposing them to a vibrant new career.

"Not just a job but a career in urban forestry and tree care and tree planting and advocacy because there are really good jobs out there in this field," he explained.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts are also looking for ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change by creating a municipal reforestation program. New legislation would prioritize neighborhoods considered heat islands with less than 29% of tree canopy cover and provide state funding to implement community-driven plantings.


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