In Nevada, millions of dollars are being spent to plant trees to help cool the concrete jungle, provide shade and help clean the air.
The question is, can the trees survive?
Lisa Ortega, executive director of Nevada Plants, a tree-planting advocacy group, said there already was evidence that some around Las Vegas cannot — at least not without a lot of help.
And rising temperatures in the already-sweltering desert, coupled with the emergence of new varieties of pests, raise even more questions.
As she drove through east Las Vegas last week, Ortega immediately spotted alarming signs of trees in distress: 40-year-old pine trees leaning at 45-degree angles, dying branches and telltale pinholes in dry bark from pests.
A yard near Ferron Elementary School sports a towering, long-dead pine tree. Ortega knocked on the trunk to demonstrate how hollow it was.
She has tried to persuade the homeowner to apply for a grant to cover its costly removal, but the woman has declined.
To some desert dwellers, even a dead tree is better than no tree. “She said, ‘I want to leave it up; it’s the only shade I have,’” Ortega said. “And it’s dead. It’s gone.”
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