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See Which Groups will Split $25,000 Climate Protection Prize for Grand Rapids

On Arbor Day in April, Mayor George Heartwell named his inaugural Tree of the Year in Grand Rapids. A city budget approved this week includes funding to supplement a grant for planting trees in street right-of-ways.

So perhaps it's no surprise that half of the $25,000 prize Heartwell got last week from the U.S. Conference of Mayors will be allocated to Friends of Grand Rapids Parks...for tree planting.

The other half will go the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, a Grand Rapids non-profit whose executive director appeared in a video that showcased the city's energy initiatives to U.S. mayors in Orlando last week. See the video here.

WMEAC will use the money to create a community resiliency plan aimed at preparing Grand Rapids for climate changes and energy volatility. Some initiatives related to that broad plan will be introduced to donors at a fundraiser next week.

One of WMEAC's current projects involves working with Grand Rapids on a plan for storm sewer maintenance. City Commission on July 24 will hear a recommendation for a storm water user fee to fund costs of the system.

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