Part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the President Obama-supported economic stimulus package, called for an advancement in environmental efforts. $27.2 billion was invested in renewable energy research, and several billion dollars were invested in environmental restoration projects. Some of that money, CBS Denver reports, went towards planting trees in some of Denver’s most upscale neighborhoods.
The news publication claims that its investigation uncovered that around 4,000 trees had been purchased using federal funds from the stimulus package, stating that many ended up “at million dollar homes in Denver’s priciest neighborhoods where residents acknowledge they could have paid for their own trees, but the government was giving them out for free, so why bother?”
City forester Rob Davis claimed that the city spent $600,000 of stimulus funds on planting trees throughout the Denver area, which were priced at $150/plant. There were no income requirements for those seeking monetary help from the government in planting a new tree, so all individuals had to do was sign up for the program on a website, which has now closed. There were also door-to-door salesmen going around Denver neighborhoods, informing homeowners of the federal program.
Denver Parks and Recreation spokesmen Jeff Green informed CBS Denver that the program was initially aimed at providing middle and low-income homeowners with trees, and that the amount of high-income homes that received free trees via federal money was a mistake on the city’s behalf. He also mentioned that lower-income homeowners were less likely to take advantage of the offer for free trees, as the program was open to all individuals.
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“While we plant a number of trees in the middle or lower income neighborhoods over the past few years, we want to have a better understanding of why residents in these areas don’t take advantage of the free tree programs,” Green said, “Our forestry group will be studying this and making changes to the program so that we can focus on those areas that need trees the most.”