BENTONVILLE (KFSM) -- Six Benton County cities will be able to improve their environmental aesthetics thanks to grants from the Walton Family Foundation.
The foundation will provide more than 2,000 trees of 50 different species for municipal projects and resident giveaways in Bella Vista, Bentonville, Centerton, Gravette, Pea Ridge and Siloam Springs, according to a news release.
“Planting trees today is one way to reinforce our family’s long-term commitment to the region,” said Steuart Walton, foundation board member. “My hope is future Northwest Arkansas residents will enjoy a distinctive and mature tree canopy that inspires them to preserve our region’s natural beauty as a point of distinction and pride for generations to come.”
The grants total nearly $787,000 and will allow cities to plant large trees near trails, highways, parks, airports, elementary schools, playgrounds, golf courses and other public spaces to improve livability and economic activity.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, mature trees help increase foot traffic and retail sales in cities’ commercial districts, as well as drive up property values in residential areas. Trees also help moderate cities’ climates, mitigate storm water runoff and reduce the “heat island” effect, which makes urban areas hotter than surrounding rural communities.
Cities will host giveaways this fall for residents to receive smaller trees in three- to five-gallon pots. Giveaways will be held in Bentonville on October 14; Pea Ridge and Gravette on October 21; Centerton on October 27 and 28; and Bella Vista and Siloam Springs on October 28. Each municipality will release full event details in the coming weeks.
Starting Friday (Oct. 6) at 8:00 a.m., residents in Bentonville will be able to pre-register on the city's website to get up to two of about 400 trees that will be made available to take home.
The foundation was started by Sam and Helen Walton as a way to give back to Northwest Arkansas. In 2016, the foundation awarded grants totaling more than $454 million toward improving K-12 education, supporting local communities and protecting the environment.