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Lamont looks to increase urban tree canopy coverage by 5% by 2040

Molly Ingram
Governor Ned Lamont and New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker plant a tree with the Urban Resources Initiative.

A bill in the Connecticut General Assembly could force the state's five largest cities and environmental justice communities to plant more trees.

It’s in an effort to improve air and water quality as well as reduce the summer heat. The bill would require municipalities with more than 100,000 residents as well as the environmental justice communities to have at least 5% tree canopy.

Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford and Waterbury all have more than 100,000 residents.

Lamont visited New Haven on Monday to see where the Urban Resources Initiative (URI) has planted trees in the inner city.

“There were a lot of trees in the city many years ago where it was Elm City, and we're bringing New Haven back to its former glory,” Lamont said. “Starting in the most distressed communities where people need it the most.”

URI has received more than $50,000 in grants to beautify New Haven.

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes said passing the bill would be beneficial.

“Our state is serious about making strides and measuring and holding ourselves accountable to reach a goal of getting more trees available for those communities that lack access to the cover that others enjoy,” Dykes said.

The bill passed the Joint Environmental Committee and has been referred to the Office of Legislative Research.

If it passes, cities will have to comply by January of 2024.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.