From the Headlines: June 21-25, 2021

Trees please: Detroit needs about 1.2 million more trees, according to recently released “tree equity scores” from the non-profit American Forests. These scores are based on whether or not an area has enough trees to provide residents with the health and economic benefits provided by a good canopy. Among other things, a healthy canopy can help protect residents from extreme heat and flooding. Low-income and non-white areas often have fewer trees than whiter ones. In 2017, Detroit announced a plan to plant 10,000 trees, a small fraction of the number American Forests says are needed and perhaps not even enough to keep up with tree mortality. (AP, Planet Detroit)

Black Farmer Land Fund is back: The Detroit Black Farmer Land Fund launched its crowdfunding campaign for a second year. In 2020, the project delivered $60,000 to 30 African American farmers and gardeners to help them purchase land to farm on. “The community really turned out for this project. We were able to raise $65,000 in a matter of a few weeks,” saidTepfirah “Tee” Rushdan, co-director of Keep Growing Detroit and co-founder of the fund. But so far, only a handful of farms and gardens have successfully purchased the land, which Rushdan attributes in part to the complicated nature of acquiring parcels from the Detroit Land Bank. The fund hopes to streamline this process going forward, and they’re looking to award money to another 40 Detroiters this year. (WDET)

Tree skills: “I was the only woman,” said Tinita Greene, a recent graduate of DTE Energy and IBEW Local 17’s tree trimming academy. “I’m usually the only one, if not two or three women, in a sea of men. They have the best jobs. It’s crazy.” In the past, Greene has worked in a bakery, in an assisted living facility, and at assembling and disassembling car transmissions. The tree-trimming program is giving graduates like her the chance to make $30 an hour or more as paid apprentices, removing trees and branches from around power lines and buildings. Every member of the program’s first cohort has found a job since graduating. (Bridge Detroit) 

Some benefits? Eight organizations in Detroit’s Delray neighborhood and Windsor’s Sandwich Town received money through the Gordie Howe International Bridge project’s Community Benefits Plan, which will send $100,000 annually to the two neighborhoods until 2024. This year’s recipients include the Unity in Our Community TimeBank, Clark Park Coalition, and First Latin American Baptist Church. “We were able to renovate the sanctuary, but our goal was to also have a gymnasium and recreational center like we had on Fort Street,” said Pastor Kevin Casillas from the First Latin American Baptist Church. “Because of COVID-related delays and increased costs, things got a little tight with the budget and these funds will help us complete that recreational center and actually open its doors this fall.” Construction of the $4.4 billion bridge has been called one of the largest infrastructure projects in North America and the bridge could bring an estimated 50 percent more traffic to the neighborhoods around the bridge, which are already heavily affected by vehicle emissions and other pollution. (Detroit News, Planet Detroit) 

Drought in the Mitten: Recent rains have done little to lessen the “moderate” or “severe” drought affecting most of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. A lack of rain could hurt the state’s wheat and tart cherry production. Corn and soy may still recover, but wheat–which is due to be harvested soon–is unlikely to see much benefit from improved conditions. The dry weather has affected other crops as well. “We usually would harvest three bushels of Honeycrisp apples per tree, but this year we expect as low as a half-bushel per tree — there are a lot of small dropped apples under the trees,” saidJim Bardenhagen of Bardenhagen Farms in Suttons Bay. According to the Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan has the second most diverse agricultural industry after California, contributing $101.2 billion to the state’s economy annually. (Detroit News)

Goodbye coal, hello methane: Consumers Energy announced Wednesday that it will stop burning coal to produce electricity by 2025, ending its use of the energy source 15 years earlier than previously planned. The utility said it will use solar, wind, and other renewables to produce 60 percent of its energy by 2040, coupling these with advances in storage and energy efficiency to derive 90 percent of power generation from clean sources. However, the utility also plans to buy four gas-fired plants to help generate energy. Although gas likely produces fewer carbon emissions than coal, it’s a significant emitter of methane. Methane is 25 times more efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. (Freep, Inside Climate News)

Trouble for Line 5: The National Wildlife Federation said that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to examine the environmental impact of Enbridge’s proposed new Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac “could add years” to the project’s timeline. The environmental impact statement will have to be completed before Enbridge is able to start construction on the new pipeline in a tunnel underneath the straits. The Michigan Public Service Commission will also be considering arguments about greenhouse gas emissions created by the project before issuing a final authorization. (Detroit News) 

Migration: University of Michigan researchers released a study showing that birds are migrating earlier in the spring and fall, possibly in response to climate change. Birds are also more likely to have longer wings and smaller bodies as the climate warm, perhaps because smaller animals are better able to dissipate heat. This is believed to be the first study to use birds killed by window collisions in Chicago to examine trends in migration. “These findings suggest that biotic responses to climate change are highly multidimensional,” the study said. (Freep) 


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