By Adam Swift
The Mystic River Watershed Association recently secured $400,000 in federal funds to enhance urban forests in Greater Boston’s Mystic River Watershed.
This funding will help mitigate the dangers of climate-driven extreme heat in vulnerable environmental justice communities including Everett, Chelsea and East Boston. The program will support the implementation of local urban forestry plans (including the planting of 750 trees), while training youth, reentry citizens and others to perform the horticulture activities needed to establish and maintain urban trees.
The funding is part of nearly $13 million in federal community project grants for nine resilience projects in the Mystic Watershed.
“This funding allows us to partner with communities to cool off some of the hottest neighborhoods in our watershed that currently have very few parks, trees, or other cooling,” said David Queeley, deputy director for projects at the Mystic River Watershed Association. “These same neighborhoods are where many low-income BIPOC residents live due to past redlining practices and crushingly high housing prices elsewhere. Helping vulnerable residents stay safe lowers hospitalization rates and medical costs. If we can help cool off the hottest streets, or even whole neighborhoods, why wouldn’t we?”
When President Biden signed the FY2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act into law on December 29, 2022, the $1.7 trillion spending bill included nine grants for Resilient Mystic Collaborative (RMC) cities and towns totaling almost $13 million.
These earmarks bring the total grant funding for RMC community projects to $30.4 million since its founding in 2018.
For each of the last two federal budgets, Congresswomen Katherine Clark and Ayanna Pressley and Congressman Seth Moulton were able to secure multiple Community Project Funding for projects with demonstrated local support that fit within specific existing federal grant programs. These grants included four for RMC communities in FY2022, and nine in FY2023.
“We couldn’t be more grateful to Congresswomen Katherine Clark and Ayanna Pressley and Congressman Seth Moulton and their staff for securing such robust funding for our communities,” said Patrick Herron, executive director of the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), which staffs the RMC. “These investments will make our cities and towns safer, more equitable, and more beautiful.”
Since its beginnings, the Resilient Mystic Collaborative has been focused on projects that make a difference for the people most affected by climate change, according to John Walkey, Director of Waterfront & Climate Justice Initiatives at local non-profit GreenRoots.
“It’s why GreenRoots is so excited to support and partner with the RMC and its members to help secure almost $14 million in federal grants to fund these projects.”
Each of the municipalities that championed these climate resilient projects is a founding member of the Resilient Mystic Collaborative, a watershed-wide voluntary partnership focused on regional climate resilience. Convened by MyRWA in September 2018 and led by senior staff from 20 cities and towns and non-governmental partners, the RMC focuses on managing flooding and extreme heat on a regional scale and increasing the resilience of vulnerable residents and workers to extreme weather.