WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Every week you’ll find a few West Palm Beach City employees pulling weeds and watering trees at a tree nursery on 23rd Street in West Palm Beach.
“We heard what they were saying and we wanted to do something about it,” Michael Rittenhouse said.
Rittenhouse is a sustainability program coordinator for the city. He says they are using the city’s nursery to grow the trees. Eventually, the plan is to give away 10,000 of these trees in 10 years to people in the community, funded by taxpayer dollars out of the sustainability budget.
“We want them to plant something that’s going to grow a little larger and a little taller. Spread out some more and create shade,” said Rittenhouse.
The push to bring more shade trees to West Palm Beach stems from an August study. Rittenhouse says his office found a heat index temperature of 122 degrees near downtown. The same sample was taken at Grassy Waters Preserve around 10 miles north. It revealed a heat index of 92 degrees.
“Not surprising because there’s a lot missing trees out there with missing trees there are going to be more cement and more cement will bring the heat index rising,” Ashley, an employee with Grassy Waters said.
“While palm trees are very beautiful they don’t necessarily provide all that shade and different attributes we’re looking for,” Rittenhouse said.
What they are looking for are oak and other broadleaf trees. Rittenhouse house says those trees can absorb more greenhouse gasses than palm trees, helping to protect our planet and our paradise.
“It takes a lot of work but it will be worth it in the end,” said Rittenhouse.