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Can U.S. cities use climate plans to ‘undo’ racist legacies?

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RICHMOND, Virginia – The Southside area of Richmond is home to industrial lots, racially diverse neighborhoods, an enormous tobacco facility – and little public greenery.

“The closest park I can think of from here is beautiful, with old-growth trees – but that’s … in an area with a more affluent population, several miles away,” said Ashley Moulton, a land conservation specialist with the nonprofit Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC).

That is why the group, which works to protect land in and around Virginia’s capital, is helping transfer a patch of ground to the city to create a new park, she explained as she stood under an enormous beech tree growing on the property.

Comprising 13 acres (5.3 hectares), with several fern-filled wetland areas and a stream running through it, the park will not only offer an urban sanctuary to around 2,300 nearby residents, but also help cool surrounding communities, improve air quality and connect neighborhoods otherwise cut off from each other, Moulton said in an interview.

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