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Tucson, Arizona, is one of the fastest-warming cities in the U.S. As the temperature rises, so does the threat of heat-related illness.

So for Mayor Regina Romero, global warming is not only an environmental issue. It’s a health risk that takes a toll on her city’s most vulnerable residents.

To provide shade and help cool the city, Romero has set an ambitious goal: planting 1 million new trees in Tucson within the next 10 years.

“We have beautiful native trees – mesquites and palo verdes and ironwoods – and they are drought tolerant,” Romero says.

She says since she took office last December, the city has planted more than 10,000 trees. But the project’s pace has slowed as the city responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“And now we have to pick up the pace,” Romero says. “We have to partner with the private sector and other nonprofits and other governments.”

She encourages Tucson residents to participate, too, by planting trees on their land.

“Trees make people happy,” she says. “Trees make people very happy.”

And as temperatures rise, trees can help keep them healthy, too.

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.