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$1M Air District Grant Will Bring 1,700 Trees to South Central Fresno
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 1 year ago on
March 31, 2023

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Over the next three years, south central Fresno should be greener and healthier.

The Valley Air District said Friday morning that it’s granting Tree Fresno $1 million to team up with other community groups to plant 1,700 trees in south city neighborhoods.

“Tree Fresno is honored to have been selected as a recipient of funding from the AB 617 Urban Greening program to improve air quality for those who work and reside in south central Fresno,”  Mona Cummings, CEO of Tree Fresno, said in a news release.

Jessica Olsen is the director of community strategies for the air district. She said that a community committee created by AB 617 has prioritized more than 46 clean-air strategies for south central neighborhoods exceeding $45 million in funding.

These efforts, Olsen said, have reduced “nearly 2,000 tons of emissions in this historically underserved part of the Valley.”

A Look at the Projects

One project will establish a variety of community tree-planting events across area schools, community centers, and other public spaces in partnership with Fresno Unified School District, Fresno Housing, Caltrans, and the High-Speed Rail Authority.

The second project is an Adopt-A-Tree program, led by Central California Environmental Justice Network, in which 1,200 trees will be given to residents and businesses, along with tools and information to ensure proper care and irrigation.

“Until now, access to trees has been another form of disparity between the north and the south part of Fresno,” said CCEJN Executive Director Nayamin Martinez. “We hope to begin the process to reverse this inequity and help all Fresnans who want to have trees in their neighborhoods adopt trees.”

What Is AB 617?

Assembly Bill 617 is a 2017 law that requires the California Air Resources Board and air districts to implement new emissions reporting, monitoring, and air pollution reduction plans in disadvantaged communities. Given that 20 of the 30 most disadvantaged communities in California are in the San Joaquin Valley, AB 617 is expected to bring more clean air resources and strategies to many Valley communities.

South Central Fresno

South central Fresno is densely populated and downwind of emissions from the northern part of the city. It includes Highways 180 and 41, and extends to Calwa and Malaga.

The Greening of South Central

(Valley Air District)

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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