Urban Forests Case Studies

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Urban Forests

Case Studies Challenges, Potential and Success in a Dozen Cities

American Forests Scott Steen, Publisher Copyright Š 2012 American Forests. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, modified, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Citation: American Forests. 2012. Urban Forests Case Studies: Challenges, Potential and Success in a Dozen Cities.

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Urban Forests Case Studies Challenges, Potential and Success in a Dozen Cities


contents Introduction...................................................................... 1

Involving Neighborhoods and Communities

Green Infrastructure Solutions: .

Baltimore, Maryland.............................................52

Denver, Colorado................................................. 60

Indianapolis, Indiana............................................68

Atlanta, Georgia....................................................76

Stormwater and Watersheds

Portland, Oregon.................................................... 4

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania..................................12

Washington, D.C................................................... 20

Milwaukee, Wisconsin..........................................28

Green Infrastructure Solutions: . Energy and Heat Islands

Sacramento, California........................................36

Austin, Texas......................................................... 44

Urban Forestry Partnerships

Seattle, Washington.............................................84

Detroit, Michigan...................................................92

Glossary........................................................................100 References.....................................................................101

introduction There are many challenges facing cities in the 21st century: aging gray infrastructures, social and economic inequality, maxed out systems and grids, extensive urban development. With more than 80 percent of the U.S. population now calling urban areas home, finding solutions to these issues that fit within a city’s budgetary constraints, while also enhancing the city for the better, is of tantamount importance. As a result, cities across the country are developing innovative strategies and programs to help solve their woes. Their solution? Urban forests. American Forests defines urban forests as “ecosystems composed of trees and other vegetation that provide cities and municipalities with environmental, economic and social benefits. They include street and yard trees, vegetation within parks and along public rights of way, water systems, fish and wildlife.” Unlike traditional infrastructure, such as pipelines, buildings and roadways, urban forests appreciate in value over time, meaning a low-cost solution now in the form of urban forest investments becomes a long-term benefit. This publication represents extensive research, interviews and examinations into 12 cities that have begun — or are continuing — to make an investment in their urban forests in order to reap future gains. Unsurprisingly, every city on this list is unique, with its own complex history, agendas, governments, needs and challenges. Despite their differences, though, there are some common threads throughout their tales and lessons to be learned.

Urban Forests Case Studies



Urban forests are a cost-effective way to address some of the expensive problems cities face. From helping manage stormwater to reducing energy demands, green infrastructure — from trees to green roofs to landscaped boulevards to rain gardens — pays dividends and is less costly than its gray counterpart.


No man is an island. Strong communities and neighborhoods add value to our cities and our individual lives. Urban forests bring communities together by offering spaces for interaction, which increases the well-being of a neighborhood. Urban forests can be unifying forces in every community — from the low-income to the more affluent.


No one can effectively implement change alone. Public-public, public-private and private-private partnerships are vital to achieving a city’s long-term objectives. No city has found lasting success without the cooperation of its citizenry, government, businesses and nonprofits. Funding tree planting can be easy; funding maintenance shows real


commitment to a city’s future. While many city leaders are willing to fund tree planting efforts to improve their urban forest, the proper funding that would ensure the long-term success of those efforts is often denied. For urban forests to truly appreciate in value, urban forestry teams need appropriate levels of funding and support for staff and equipment to provide the proper maintenance and management of these valuable assets.

The following 12 case studies will echo these lessons. The studies have been grouped by the dominant theme that emerged in the city’s work, but all of these ideas have resonance in each study. However, these studies should not be mistaken for comprehensive accounts of the urban forest work occurring in each respective city. They are snapshots in time — reflections on where the city is and where it is hoping to go. These are studies in potential. Studies in ingenuity. Studies in the commitment of individuals, groups, organizations and government. Studies that reveal a glimpse of brighter, cleaner, greener cities in our future. This publication reveals where we are and where we could be if we can band together to invest in urban forests for our benefit and the benefit of generations to come.


Urban Forests Case Studies


Publication Section Title Goes Here







Portland Nevada


Quick Facts


Who Portland Parks & Recreation Staff 29 full-time staff members, including tree inspectors, arborists, an urban forestry supervisor, city forester, botanic specialist, outreach and education specialists and an administrative support position; plus seasonal staff for tree establishment, tree inventory and Dutch elm disease monitoring Canopy 1.2 million park trees and 236,000 street trees; 29.9 percent canopy cover in the city of Portland Key Forestry Tasks Regulating the planting, pruning and removal of trees in public rights of way; removal of private property trees more than 12 inch DBH on certain properties; providing maintenance and care for trees on parkland; contracts for work on other cityowned trees; 24-hour emergency response for tree issues in the public right of way Partners Bureau of Development Services, Bureau of Environmental Services, Bureau of Transportation, Water Bureau, Friends of Trees 4

Citywide Greening Initiative Neighborhood Improvement Projects Public-Private Partnership KEY TOPICS

Public-Public Partnership Regional Cooperative Effort Stormwater and Watershed Management Tree Giveaways Tree-care Training Program Urban Forest Management Plan

Imagine living somewhere where you get

37 inches of rain annually. To that 37 inches, add the fact that as a city you’ve just invested more than one billion dollars to achieve compliance with a state order to reduce sewer overflows to your city’s iconic river by 94 percent through a project dubbed the Big Pipe. This Big Pipe construction project was completed on time and under budget, but in less than a decade, its capacity will be exceeded, and the overflows could begin anew. This is the reality of Portland, Oregon. As a result, the city has implemented a number of programs to take stormwater off the Big Pipe, including a number of projects focused on the urban forest.

Stormwater and watersheds



Protecting the Watersheds The city of Portland contains portions of five main watersheds: Columbia Slough, Fanno Creek, Johnson Creek, Tryon Creek and Willamette River.

11,600 Square MIles land affected by Portland’s five main watersheds

The Willamette River Basin houses approximately 70 percent of Oregon’s population,1 and these five watersheds combined affect more than 11,600 square miles of Oregon’s real estate.2 This means that when something happens to the water in one of these five areas in Portland, the repercussions are felt far beyond Portland’s 580,000-plus residents.3 Despite their collective impact on Oregon’s water supply, these watersheds were managed independently until the city unveiled the Portland Watershed Management Plan in 2005. As stated in the plan, “Because natural resource management responsibilities are spread across the city, it is critical that a comprehensive, coordinated system provide the structure and context for identifying priority actions and areas where attention should be focused. While this is a first attempt to bring all of the information together in one place, the 2005 Portland Watershed Management Plan proposes to provide that structure with a long-term commitment to adapt and improve over time.”4 With this plan, for the first time, the city of Portland was able to coordinate efforts and create action plans for the overall wastewater system in the region, from the upland areas to the rivers and streams to the city blocks. The plan was also designed to inform the larger plans underway in other city bureaus — like the

Public Facilities Plan, focusing on sanitary and stormwater infrastructure; the Transportation System Plan; and Parks 2020 Vision — recognizing that watersheds in the city are affected by these other issues. The plan acknowledged that by improving watershed conditions through natural systems like trees, ecoroofs and bioswales, it could positively affect stormwater management issues, improve fish and wildlife habitat, reduce pollution and improve livability in Portland’s neighborhoods. Mike Rosen, watershed division manager for Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services (BES), which is primarily responsible for implementing the management plan, says, “A lot of the work we do is looking for opportunities in rebuilding or maintaining the existing infrastructure to meet multiple objectives. You need to build a street, but can you build a better drainage system for it? You need to build a street, so how can we accommodate more trees?” The 2005 Portland Watershed Management Plan gave BES the framework to consider these issues on a citywide scale, but BES would be doing this expanded work within the confines of its standard annual budget. For then-Commissioner of the Bureau of Environmental Services and now-Mayor Sam Adams, this wasn’t sufficient to accomplish the city’s goals.

City of Portland, Oregon Bureau of Environmental Services



Urban Forests Case Studies

key point Natural systems, like bioswales, improve watershed conditions and livability in Portland’s neighborhoods.


Grey to Green Initiative Rosen relates that after seeing the Watershed Management Plan, Adams started asking questions like “How long is it going to take to implement?” and “What money do you have?” Upon hearing the answers, Adams decided that more support was needed to kick start the work, and the Grey to Green initiative was born.

Each of the seven main activities of Grey to Green addresses concerns about stormwater management. Land acquisition allows important natural areas affecting the region’s streams to be protected from future development, while removal of invasives and revegetation ensure natural areas are flourishing. Culvert replacements reduce flooding and erosion concerns, while also improving the streams to better

Ecoroofs in Portland

accommodate fish and other wildlife. Ecoroofs and green streets are aimed at controlling the stormwater within the city limits. Trees, though, bridge the gaps between many of these activities, and more entities than just the city of Portland are taking notice.

City of Portland, Oregon Bureau of Environmental Services

As its name implies, Grey to Green aims to use green infrastructure activities to support needed city functions, a cultural shift away from traditional gray infrastructure. Says Rosen, “A significant part of the work we do is managing stormwater or rainfall, and the shift has been to treat it as more of a resource rather than a waste and trying to mimic natural systems where rain falls versus moving it into a pipe and sending it speeding into the river or to a wastewater treatment plant for expensive processing.”

to be invested in Portland from 2008 to 2013 on green infrastructure through the Grey to Green initiative

In Washington County, Oregon — part of the Portland metro area — Clean Water Services is doing innovative green infrastructure work. One of the utility’s water treatment plants has been releasing treated water that is too hot according to guidelines set forth in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act. If the utility were to use gray infrastructure in the form of a “chiller” plant for the water, it would cost $50 million to build and implement. Instead, Clean Water Services received permission from the EPA to plant two million trees along the rivers and streams leading into the existing plant. By shading these waterways, the water’s entry temperatures will be reduced, which will mean the treated water’s temperature will be lower — saving the utility tens of millions of dollars, while also providing the region with the ancillary benefits a strong tree canopy provides.

City of Portland, Oregon Bureau of Environmental Services

Implemented in 2008, BES’ Grey to Green initiative will invest $55 million — funded directly from stormwater fees paid by city residents, as well as capital funds — over five years “to make stormwater management more sustainable, restore watershed health and enhance Portland’s livability,” according to an April 2009 update report.5 It would do so through a series of seven activities: land acquisition, ecoroofs, revegetation, culvert replacement, green streets, trees and invasive plant removal.

$55 million

Stormwater and Watersheds



Partnering for Trees “For quite a long time, the city of Portland has recognized that trees are important. It shows up in a variety of places. And one of the most important places it can show up is in city planning documents,” says Angie DiSalvo, botanic specialist with the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau. As she relates, this means that trees aren’t just a component of the urban forest management plan, but also a feature in documents like Portland’s comprehensive plan, climate action plan and others.

key point A team comprised of members from the city’s various bureaus works to address items in Portland’s Urban Forest Action Plan.

Multiple city bureaus in Portland deal with trees:

• The Bureau of Development Services addresses trees that are impacted by developmentrelated activities in the city.

• BES handles the watershed management

activities, plus has maintenance responsibilities for trees growing in a Greet Street facility, like a roadside swale.

• Portland Parks & Recreation, which includes

the Urban Forestry Division, has management responsibility for all trees growing on cityowned property and city rights of way, plus some trees growing on private property. It also is responsible for the maintenance of trees on and adjacent to properties owned by Portland Parks & Recreation.

• The Bureau of Transportation is responsible


Urban Forests Case Studies

Naomi Tsurumi

Friends of Trees planting in Mt. Tabor Neighborhood

for the trees that affect the light-rail system and roadways.

• The Water Bureau addresses trees that help preserve, protect and clean groundwater.

With so many different players impacting trees throughout the city, in 2007, Portland formed an interagency group that would focus on addressing items in the Urban Forest Action Plan that was developed out of the city’s 2004 Urban Forest Management Plan. “Coming together for some common goals through our management plan has been helpful,” says DiSalvo. “Having trees addressed in a regulatory program across the city has been helpful. Knowing that we have to interact to reach all of those goals has been helpful. I don’t think we’re 100 percent there yet. I think — like lots of cities — we still struggle with what’s the best way to bring this large group together and be consistent.” Adds Jennifer Karps, the Grey to Green canopy coordinator with BES, “We do our best work when we work together. It takes a long time, but it works best when we’ve all bought into the product we put out.” Portland Parks & Recreation has had an urban forestry division since the 1970s. However, some of those early years involved a lot of planting without a plan. The wrong kinds of trees were put in the wrong locations, resulting in damage to sidewalks, poor survival rates and more. Complicating matters is that Portland’s tree codes and ordinances require residents to care for the public street trees adjacent to their properties. In the early years, the city would plant trees without input from the local residents. They learned quickly from these mistakes, instituting an opt-in approach for new trees, while any tree removal now requires a permit and must involve a replacement.


Helping the city in these efforts is the 22-year-old nonprofit Friends of Trees. Over the years, Friends of Trees has worked with both Urban Forestry and BES to help increase Portland’s tree canopy. There are an estimated 250,000 street trees alone in Portland, plus 10,000 acres of parkland. Since the implementation of Portland’s Grey to Green initiative, Friends of Trees’ commitment to the city’s planting efforts has gone from planting 2,240 trees during the 2008-2009 planting season to 4,663 trees in 2011-2012. In fact, the nonprofit has an $8 million, eight-year contract with BES to help plant trees as part of Grey to Green. Friends of Trees started “as just somebody [Richard Seidman] who wanted to plant trees with his neighbors,” says Brighton West, program director for Friends of Trees. “It’s really grown from a grassroots type of level. For a long time, it was just planting street trees with Urban Forestry and getting homeowners to come out together and plant street trees, so that’s always been the model. It’s a very community-driven model.” And, the model seems to be serving the city well. Each year, Friends of Trees coordinates Neighborhood Planting Days in many of Portland’s neighborhoods. On these days, trained volunteers help local residents plant between 150 and 250 street and yard trees. Friends of Trees then works with a cadre of volunteers, called summer inspectors, that survey the trees in the first summer to keep track of how well the new trees are doing; these trees have a 97 percent survival rate in their first year. The biggest challenge that the program faces is getting residents to opt-in to trees. West explains that in an opt-in model for tree distribution, residents are informed that trees are available and then must reach out to Friends of Trees to request the tree, resulting in a 20-30 percent planting rate among those residents contacted. If the residents have to purchase or pay for those trees, the planting rate drops to five percent. In comparison, opt-out models in other cities — meaning citizens

are told the trees are coming, but must tell the planting entity if they don’t want the tree — result in a 60 percent planting rate. Based on these conversion rates, it might appear that the opt-out model would be preferable, but since residents must care for the public trees adjacent to their property in Portland, it’s important for survival rates that the residents want the trees — even if this means a smaller percentage of trees is planted each year. West also cautions that “the harder you make it for someone to get a tree planted, the fewer and fewer people that will do it.” Coinciding with Friends of Trees’ neighborhood programs is Urban Forestry’s Neighborhood Tree Steward program. This program is a sevensession training course that teaches volunteers about general tree care, tree biology, tree planting, preservation and more. These volunteers then work with their Neighborhood Tree Steward Coalition to accomplish necessary urban forest projects, such as street tree pruning. This is part of a movement in the bureau to “start looking at neighborhoods as forest management units,” says Urban Forestry’s DiSalvo. “We can talk about canopy cover for the entire city, but that doesn’t necessarily resonate with an individual who lives in one specific neighborhood.” DiSalvo relates that by doing neighborhood-specific inventories and analysis of canopies, they’ve been successful at getting neighborhood associations involved in caring about their trees and developing unique Tree Plans with action items for that community. “We are rethinking what trees are in the city,” adds DiSalvo. “Are they landscaping or are they a liability or are they an asset? Coming up with a new method of accounting and a new way of looking at trees that really gives them value in the city and opens us up to new funding mechanisms is important.”

“The harder you make it for someone to get a tree planted, the fewer and fewer people that will do it.” Brighton West Program Director Friends of Trees

key point Overlapping programs from nonprofits and city entities foster learning in the community, as well as a greater stake in the health and care of the urban forest.


Friends of trees

Neighborhood programs

Neighborhood tree steward program Urban Forestry Division

City Bureaus

Stormwater and Watersheds



It Comes Back to Water

“Planting trees is tantamount to pipe work, but is less expensive and you get all of the complementary benefits urban trees provide.” Jennifer karps Grey to Green Canopy Coordinator Portland BES

Special Thanks to: Angie DiSalvo, botanic specialist, City of Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau Mike Houck, executive director, Urban Greenspaces Institute Jennifer Karps, Grey to Green canopy coordinator, City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services Mike Rosen, watershed division manager, City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services Naomi Tsurumi, environmental specialist, City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services Brighton West, program director, Friends of Trees

Portland just completed one of its biggest infrastructure projects in the city’s history: a $1.4 billion main pipe, the Big Pipe, that delivers sewage and stormwater to the city’s treatment plant. BES’ Rosen relates that to keep this pipe below capacity, the city must keep stormwater off the system. “The credo is that it’s a lot cheaper to protect infrastructure than it is to restore it,” he says. “People understand pipes,” adds Karps. “One of the things that we do is a lot of outreach and education to try to bring people up to speed about the importance of planting a tree. Planting trees is tantamount to pipe work, but is less expensive and you get all of the complementary benefits urban trees provide.” Hence, Grey to Green’s emphasis on planting trees. Approximately 83,000 trees will be planted under Grey to Green to help remove stormwater from the grid. BES isn’t limiting its efforts, though, to public trees, as they’re trying to get private citizens to help mitigate stormwater effects through a program called Treebate. Treebate is an incentive program for private landowners to plant trees. The concept is simple: Homeowners plant any tree they want from an approved list of eligible tree species. Then, they submit the receipt to BES. As a result, the homeowner receives a credit on his utility bill for half the purchase price of the tree up to $50. For a city with some of the highest stormwater rates in the country, this is no small incentive. Grey to Green, though, isn’t the only BES program looking to reduce stormwater in the city. In 2008, BES began work on Tabor to the River, described by BES’ Naomi Tsurumi as “our most advanced integration of sewer and watershed as one in both predesign and implementation.” While the Big Pipe was designed to improve overflow problems for the city at large, localized pipe problems that could result in things like flooding basements are still an issue, which is what Tabor to the River is designed to address. Focusing on 1,400 acres of the city from Mt. Tabor Park to the Willamette River, the 10-year Tabor to the River project will plant nearly 3,600 trees,


Urban Forests Case Studies

create 500 green street facilities (such as streetside planters that collect stormwater runoff), remove invasive vegetation, repair or replace 81,000 feet of sewer pipe and work with property owners to collect and manage roof and parking lot stormwater runoff. The project’s designers determined the number of trees needed for the project, Tsurumi relates, by calculating the number of available spaces for trees and then comparing those locations with pipes with hydraulic problems — such as pipes that were too small to handle the flow of water during peak times. It’s estimated that by using a combination of gray and green infrastructure to solve the sewage and stormwater issues in this area of the city, Portland will save almost $63 million compared to the cost of pipe-only solutions. According to Tsurumi, a hallmark of Tabor to the River is that it was the first time that BES incorporated both engineering and watershed goals, objectives and tools from the beginning of a project. This type of joint work is imperative to continued success, expresses Karps. “The strength of our program certainly is our partnerships. Not just our public-private partnerships, but also our public-public partnerships. When we reach across our bureau boundaries and work together, it’s not always easy to do, but those projects that span bureau boundaries are the most satisfying. That’s when we really achieve something that’s meaningful and lasting.” Adds BES Watershed Manager Rosen, “We’re interested in planning well, and we value green resources. We don’t have all the answers, but we see these resources as part of the solution. We’re very good about aspiring to integrate green infrastructure with traditional gray infrastructure.”

City of Portland, Oregon Bureau of Environmental Services


Improving the Portland Metro Area Like many metropolitan areas around the country, Portland is more than just the technical city limits. When areas of the country have high population densities and close economic and social ties, they are dubbed Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. The city of Portland finds itself in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro MSA, more commonly referred to as the Portland metro area. This area encompasses seven counties in northern Oregon and southern Washington, and more than 2.2 million people call it home.7 Back in the mid-1900s, the Portland metro area first recognized the unique challenges that coordinating efforts between multiple counties and dozens of cities would pose. As a result, organizations like the Metropolitan Planning Commission and the Columbia Region Association of Governments were formed to help planning and government on a regional level. Then, in 1978, Metro was created, an organization whose mission was to offer regional planning and management services to the Portland area. Today, Metro is an Oregon regional government agency comprised of seven elected members — a president and six councilors — who provide management on issues that cross jurisdictional lines. One of those issues is natural resources related to Portland’s urban growth boundary (UGB).8 By Oregon state law, all metropolitan areas in the state must have a UGB, which is designed to separate urban land from rural land and will prevent urban sprawl from invading natural landscapes being used for farming and recreation. Portland’s UGB appears to be doing exactly that: From 1990 to 2010, the Portland metro area’s population grew by more than 46 percent,9 but from 1992 to 2006, the urban growth area only grew by approximately nine percent.10 This success isn’t without pitfalls, though. While promoting compact urban form has been supported by the region’s conservation community, those concerned

Street trees

with ecological health and livability inside the UGB have significant concerns regarding the loss of nature in the city. “The conundrum is that if you’re going to have a compact urban area,” says Mike Houck, executive director of the Urban Greenspaces Institute, “then you must simultaneously protect natural resources and quality of life within that urban growth boundary.” Houck, a native Portlander, has spent his career working in the Portland-Vancouver region on urban park and greenspace issues, and his Urban Greenspaces Institute promotes the integration of gray and green infrastructure. He relates how it has taken years to get full buy-in from elected officials on the importance of protecting, restoring and managing greenspace within the UGB, as well as outside. These efforts have been strongly supported by the region’s residents, including the passage of two property tax measures totaling $363 million, which Metro and local park providers have used to purchase more than 15,000 acres of natural areas and build a regional trail network. “The general public did not want to see only densification inside the city without the attendant parks, trails and natural areas,” says Houck. “People no longer see parks, trails and natural areas as amenities, but as essential elements of the urban fabric.” Concern over the loss of urban natural areas led to the creation of the Metropolitan Greenspaces Program in 1991. This bi-state partnership, funded by Congress and administered jointly by Metro and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), focused on land acquisition, active (non-motorized) transportation, environmental education and habitat restoration within the context of Metro’s Region 2040 growth management program. According to the program’s 1992 master plan, “The protection, acquisition and active stewardship of greenspaces must become just as important as planning highways, transit, water and sewer lines and other basic public services.”11

focus While this program no longer gets the bulk of its funding from federal sources, the programs and ideas it instituted are being carried forward by The Intertwine Alliance, a coalition of government, nonprofit and business partners.


“People no longer see parks, trails and natural areas as amenities, but as essential elements of the urban fabric. ” Mike Houck Executive Director, Urban Greenspaces Institute

While officially incorporated in July 2011, The Intertwine Alliance first started in 2006 as an ad-hoc coalition of regional organizations that joined together for natural area acquisition. Since then, the alliance has grown to include more than 70 partners and focuses on key issues like acquisition, conservation, conservation education and creating the regional system. All of these activities are geared toward a primary goal of creating “a powerful coalition capable of championing a world-caliber network of parks, trails and natural areas,” according to the alliance’s 2010-11 Annual Report.12 It plans to accomplish this by bringing together elected officials, civic leaders, environmental nonprofits, park professionals, businesses and others to create regional initiatives aimed at improving the bi-state region’s natural resources. Among the alliance’s partners are Portland’s BES, Friends of Trees, Hillsboro Parks & Recreation, Metro, Portland Parks & Recreation, Kaiser Permanente, Vancouver Watersheds Council, Audubon Society of Portland and Urban Greenspaces Institute, as well as federal agencies like the National Park Service and FWS. As Houck, an alliance board member, puts it, “Basically, what we’re trying to do is duplicate or expand what the Bureau of Environmental Services, Metro, Portland Parks and Clean Water Services are doing to the entire Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region.”

Stormwater Stormwater and and Watersheds Watersheds


New York

Pennsylvania Ohio West Virginia

Philadelphia Quick Facts Who Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Staff 47 staff members, including arborists, tree maintenance and inspection crew members, natural land management staff members, TreePhilly staff members and administration personnel Canopy 2.1 million trees, including 135,000Â street trees Key Forestry Tasks Responsible for all public space trees in the city, including maintenance, emergency services, permitting and regulation enforcement (very limited) Partners Philadelphia Streets Department, Philadelphia Water Department, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society 12

Citywide Greening Initiative Neighborhood Improvement Projects Public-Private Partnership KEY TOPICS

Public-Public Partnership Regional Cooperative Effort Stormwater and Watershed Management Tree Giveaways Tree-care Training Program

Changes are afoot in one of America’s oldest

cities. There’s the new Commission on Parks and Recreation formed in 2009, whose goal is to sustain the legacy of William Penn’s “greene countrie town.”1 There’s also the Greenworks Philadelphia plan to turn the historic city into America’s greenest city by 2105.2 And there’s the 25-year Green City, Clean Waters plan designed to “protect and enhance our watersheds by managing stormwater with innovative green infrastructure.”3 All of these changes share one goal: to improve Philadelphia for the well-being of its citizens.

Stormwater and watersheds



Combining Parks and Recreation In most cities, parks and recreation are closely linked. The city maintains parkland so that people can use it for recreation. In Philadelphia, though, parks and recreation only recently found their way to each other in the traditional sense.

Becoming more proactive in addressing the city’s street trees is a key focus of Philadelphia’s Urban Forestry team.


2025 goal for tree canopy coverage in each city neighborhood

Fall foliage at Philadelphia’s Morris Arboretum


Urban Forests Case Studies

The Fairmount Park Commission was formed in Philadelphia in the 1860s to acquire land for the city to help protect the area’s watersheds. Fairmount, at its founding, was focused on buying property along the Schuylkill River to prevent industry from setting up on its banks. As an operating department of city — funded through the city budget, but with its own governance board — Fairmount would operate for the benefit of the city, but outside its direct control for 150 years, focusing on land management for the health of the city’s residents. The city’s Recreation Department came along in the 1950s to provide a “comprehensive and coordinated program of cultural and physical recreational activities to be instituted and conducted in all city recreational facilities.”4 The department focused on diverse interests from sports and athletics to the performing arts. While some of these activities may have occurred on parkland, the Recreation Department was focused on active recreation more than the land itself. These two groups operated independently, side by side, for decades, until a movement began

in the City Council to officially pair them. After decades of being stymied in these efforts, on July 1, 2010, The Fairmount Park Commission and the Recreation Department officially joined and became Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.5 All powers and fiscal responsibilities that used to reside in the separate groups are now held by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. However, some Fairmount Park Trust Funds, which were created to hold funds for particular areas of parkland, do still exist. Within the newly formed Philadelphia Parks & Recreation is the Urban Forestry and Ecosystem Management staff. This team is responsible for all street trees in Philadelphia and also for all of the natural spaces under the city’s control. When it comes to those natural spaces, the goal is to “maintain a level of service delivery from our natural resources,” says the team’s director, Joan Blaustein. “We do a tremendous amount of actual restoration in the natural areas — everything from gully repair along the stream corridors to meadow creation and maintenance, large-scale invasive control and reforestation projects. We do this work mostly through grant funds that we

Judy Miller

key point

Blaustein notes how prior to the merger, trees were dealt with on a “by-request” basis. If a citizen wanted a right-of-way tree planted, the city would go out and plant it. If a citizen wanted a tree removed, it was removed. There was “no comprehensive approach to street tree inspections, maintenance, removal and plantings,” says Blaustein. The city and federal government actually recognized this problem in Philadelphia long before the merger. The U.S. Forest Service has been working with the city since 1994 to try to update Philadelphia’s urban forest management systems. “The city has not had sufficient resources to manage the trees they have,” says Phillip Rodbell with the U.S. Forest Service Philadelphia Field Station, “but they’ve


raise through a variety of sources.” Fairmount Park had been doing this type of work for decades, but looking at the street trees and natural areas as one continuous urban forest is a newer philosophy.

embarked on a campaign to plant more, so they need to prioritize effectively in order to achieve the goals they’ve set.” This was a task put on Blaustein and her team’s shoulders — to figure out how to make the city’s urban forestry team proactive in addressing the city’s street trees. This task is made more difficult by the fact that the city has increased the capital funds going toward buying new trees, but not funds to increase staffing to handle those trees once they’re in the ground. Blaustein and her team haven’t solved the problem yet, but she feels that they are moving in the right direction. While the kinks are being worked out in terms of canopy management, though, the city is working toward an ambitious goal of increasing tree canopy coverage to 30 percent in each individual neighborhood by 2025, as part of the mayor’s Greenworks Philadelphia plan.6 With a citywide average canopy of only 20 percent now, the task is daunting.

Creating a Green City Greenworks Philadelphia was a bold goal announced during Mayor Michael Nutter’s inauguration in 2008, when he declared that “[Philadelphia] should be the number one green city in America.”7 The new mayor would form an Office of Sustainability, and a year after his inaugural address, the city would unveil the new plan designed to address sustainability throughout the municipality. The plan outlines 15 key targets, which fall under five categories: energy, environment, equity, economy and engagement. gas emissions, improving air quality and managing stormwater.”8 But there are also specific targets around the city’s urban forest, including having a public greenspace within a 10-minute walk of every resident of the city. To help reach the target of increasing neighborhood tree canopy to 30 percent by 2025, Parks & Recreation first conducted an urban tree canopy assessment with the help of the U.S. Forest Service and the University

Drexel University yard-tree giveaway


These targets address diverse sustainability issues, such as energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, solid waste in landfills, stormwater management, availability of locally grown food, tree coverage, green jobs, community engagement and more. As mentioned in the Greenworks Philadelphia Update and 2012 Progress Report, “Trees play an integral part in achieving several Greenworks targets, including reducing energy use and greenhouse

Stormwater and Watersheds




and coordinate with “friends” groups already in existence. “We want to get trees into people’s hands who have the knowledge and experience to plant and tend to them,” Fichman adds. “There’s a nice network of people who are engaged with greening in the city, so we’re trying to tap into those people to do more volunteer plantings.” Much of the city’s green network can actually be traced back to the nonprofit Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS). PHS has been around for a long time — since 1827 — and aims to “motivate people to improve the quality of life and create a sense of community through horticulture.”9 In 1974, PHS launched Philadelphia Green, which uses partnerships to engage in and promote green activities for urban renewal.10 These activities take a variety of forms:

• Community gardens that are run by PHS-trained Garden Tenders.

Wells Fargo volunteers plant new trees at the Oak Lane Library

“A big component of our work is to build the capacity of citizens to become stewards.” Maitreyi Roy Former senior vice president for programming Pennsylvania Horticultural Society


Urban Forests Case Studies

of Vermont Spatial Analysis Lab in 2011. This assessment revealed that it would be possible to reach Greenworks Philadelphia’s goal based on the land cover data, although it would mean removing impervious surfaces in targeted places. The other key finding of the assessment was that “one of the main opportunities for open space for planting of trees is in the front and backyards of row homes,” says Erica Smith Fichman, TreePhilly manager. “Realizing that you really need to work on a small scale and do outreach to individuals and on a community organizing basis is a pretty powerful thing.” Thus, Parks & Recreation realized that if they were going to reach the Greenworks goal for canopy coverage, they would need to engage private land holders, and TreePhilly was born. TreePhilly, a Parks & Recreation program that partners with other tree-concerned groups in the city, officially launched in February 2012 with the goal of engaging Philadelphians in tree planting and maintenance efforts. “We wanted to make sure that we were hitting some of the areas that had high need, but also high opportunity for planting,” says Fichman. Through GIS analysis, TreePhilly identified eight target neighborhoods where the program felt it could really make a difference, and outreach began to make connections with residents, hold events

• Landscape management for downtown

spaces like City Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

• The building of a network of friends of parks

groups, which once consisted of three to five groups and now numbers more than 100. These groups join together with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation for landscape-improvement projects in parks throughout the city.

• The Philadelphia LandCare Program, which is funded by the city and is designed to reclaim abandoned lots to eliminate blight and, therefore, spur development.

• The Tree Tenders program, which is hands-

on tree-care training and covers biology, identification, planting, proper maintenance and working within the community.

PHS also has a regional campaign for tree canopy coverage: its Plant One Million program, which launched in 2011 with a goal to plant a million trees throughout 13 counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware by 2020. Because Philadelphia sits on the border of three different states, a regional approach to tree canopy coverage seems natural, but requires extensive coordination. To help achieve its goals, PHS set up partnerships with the Delaware


Center for Horticulture and the New Jersey Tree Foundation, as well as school districts, universities, municipal shade tree commissions, civic groups and more.11 Beyond improving the city and region’s urban forest, all PHS projects and programs share a major commonality: “A big component of our work is to build the capacity of citizens to become stewards,” says Maitreyi Roy, former senior vice president for programming at PHS. “We feel that there’s an opportunity to have a nice, robust relationship with community groups around landscape management without burdening them too much.” For example, “Tree Tenders is a really powerful network,” adds Fichman. “You have these advocates in a lot of the neighborhoods in Philly, where they plant trees twice a year or have pruning clubs. It’s a nice network of communityoriented work.” The only downfall to this work is that it’s not always the easiest to fund. Urban Forestry Director Blaustein relates that when it comes to public trees, the group receives capital funding for tree purchase and removal, but lacks sufficient funding for maintenance. Plus, capital funds only apply to tree plantings on public lands, as city funds can’t be used for work on private property.


University of Pennsylvania staff, students and volunteers with TreePhilly staff at a yard-tree giveaway

To meet the goal of increasing tree canopy in yards across the city, TreePhilly will give away 4,000 trees this year for planting on private residences through the support of Wells Fargo. In addition, Fichman’s position as the manager of TreePhilly was supported through a grant from the Fells Foundation in its first year. The program is also relying on its network of volunteers to make an impact. “One of the programs we’re doing is reaching out to communities through community development corporations and civic associations to do a survey of their street trees, specifically looking for opportunities where there are already open pits,” Fichman relates. “They return a spreadsheet to us with the addresses of open pits listed so we can work with our street tree team to get trees in those locations.” Creating these partnership and networks is often one of the biggest hurdles that has to be crossed to find urban forest success. “Getting the right support behind you to implement something at a citywide level requires a level of risk taking and public-private partnership that is perhaps hard to convince everybody of,” says Roy. “Getting people to buy into what you think is possible is the biggest challenge.” But it’s a challenge that can pay big dividends in the end.

key point The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has taken a regional approach, working with groups in neighboring Delaware and New Jersey to achieve tree coverage goals.


the number of trees TreePhilly gave away for planting on private property in 2012

Stormwater and Watersheds



Sharing Responsibility for Water

key point The city is partnering with the EPA to achieve its green stormwater infrastructure goals, as the federal agency is committed to helping with innovative greening approaches to achieve desired water quality benefits.

“One of the more innovative things in Philadelphia is that the Water Department is partially funding the Parks Department through some staff positions in order to sustain the current natural areas and to educate the public about green infrastructure.” Phillip Rodbell Philadelphia Field Station acting coordinator U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station


Urban Forests Case Studies

Some of the most prominent examples of successful public-private, public-public and even federal-city partnerships center around one topic in Philadelphia: water. In Philadelphia, three water treatment plants treat 310 million gallons of water per day, feeding 3,300 miles of water mains, and more than 2,900 miles of sewers service the city.12 These are the purview of the Philadelphia Water Department and Water Revenue Bureau, which serves “the Greater Philadelphia region by providing integrated water, wastewater and stormwater services. The utility’s primary mission is to plan for, operate and maintain both the infrastructure and the organization necessary to purvey high-quality drinking water; to provide an adequate and reliable water supply for all household, commercial and community needs; and to sustain and enhance the region’s watersheds and quality of life by managing wastewater and stormwater effectively.”13 Funds from water bills play a role in helping the Water Department accomplish its mission, as every resident helps support stormwater management, wastewater treatment and collection, and drinking water management.14 In addition, partnerships are a big part of the Water Department’s plans. “One of the more innovative things in Philadelphia is that the Water Department is partially funding the Parks Department through some staff positions in order to sustain the current natural areas and to educate the public about green infrastructure,” says the Forest Service’s Rodbell. “The Watershed Division in the Water Department has achieved remarkable success in education and collaborative arrangements with other divisions within the government.” With its founding based in watershed health, Fairmount Park has always been deeply involved with and aware of the connection between land

and water, but the relationship between the park team and the Water Department shifted gears about 15 years ago, relates Urban Forestry Director Blaustein. She says that a big impetus for the partnership was a large grant that Fairmount Park received in 1998 from the William Penn Foundation to create a master plan for the management of the natural areas in the city. “There had never been a systematic assessment of the natural areas or a plan on how to do restoration,” Blaustein says. “There was no dedicated staff to the natural areas prior to that. At the same time, the Water Department formed the Office of Watersheds, which moved its focus from infrastructure to looking at watersheds as a whole.” Since much of the Philadelphia’s water flows through the city’s natural land, the resulting partnership was natural. The Water Department funds some of Parks’ positions that focus on watershed work, and “we’ve worked very closely to do projects together to make sure we’re in coordination about where we’re focusing,” adds Blaustein. “We’re moving slowly into stormwater management on park areas that will help the Water Department achieve their goals through their combined sewer overflow long-term control plan.” That plan is Green City, Clean Waters, a 25-year “infrastructure management program intended to protect and enhance our region’s waterways by managing stormwater runoff to significantly reduce our reliance on construction of additional underground infrastructure.”15 To accomplish its goals, the plan relies almost exclusively on green infrastructure investments, including a largescale street tree program, conversion of vacant and abandoned lots, restored streams and more.


Philadelphia Parks & Recreation is working with the Water Department to develop cost sharing for tree planting in stormwater management pits and to develop maintenance programs for green stormwater infrastructure installations, while urban forest maintenance remains with them. By the time the plan is completed, it’s estimated that more than $3 billion will have been invested “to initiate the largest green stormwater infrastructure program ever envisioned in this country.”16 Helping with this investment is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which signed an agreement in April 2012 committing the federal agency to helping ensure Green City, Clean Waters reaches its goals. When the signing of the agreement was announced, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told E&E News, “EPA commits to work with the city to address regulatory barriers to the innovative greening approaches, and [it] will allow us to evaluate and verify the effectiveness of new green techniques. EPA will also work with Philadelphia to ensure the plan is successfully

achieving the desired water quality benefits and over time will meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act and other national standards.”17 Special Thanks to:

Behind the scenes, this has been an initiative years in the making. The Water Department and PHS partnered to conduct 45 demonstration projects for stormwater remediation for a variety of open spaces, relates Roy. These demonstration projects ranged from streetscapes to community gardens to green roofs. With the EPA’s approval and partnership on Green City, Clean Waters, “it’s now about scaling up to the level where the green infrastructure is actually addressing the stormwater problems,” says Roy. “It’s a very exciting time. There’s a lot going on in the city around design and implementation.” And all of this activity, partnership, stewardship and innovation might very well fulfill Mayor Nutter’s goal of making Philadelphia the greenest city in the country.

Joan S. Blaustein, director, City of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry and Ecosystem Management Erica Smith Fichman, TreePhilly manager, City of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Phillip Rodbell, Philadelphia Field Station acting coordinator, U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station Maitreyi Roy, former senior vice president for programming, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Ed Yakovich

Philadelphia skyline

Stormwater and Watersheds


Maryland Delaware

West Virginia Virginia

Washington, D. Quick Facts Who District Department of Transportation Urban Forestry Administration Staff 42 staff members Canopy 35 percent canopy, including more than 130,000 street trees; plus right-of-way trees Key Forestry Tasks Tree pruning and maintenance, tree planting and removals, permitting, reviewing development and construction site plans that impact rights of way, and other duties



Citywide Greening Initiative Long-term Maintenance Plan KEY TOPICS

Neighborhood Improvement Projects Public-Private Partnership Public-Public Partnership Stormwater and Watershed Management Tree-care Training Program Urban Forest Management Plan

From its tree-lined streets to the National

Mall, Washington, D.C., is well-known for its greenspaces. There are more than 7,000 acres of parkland and a tree canopy of around 35 percent. These greenspaces, though, are spread across city, federal and private land, which means maintaining a healthy forest in the District is the responsibility of a variety of entities.

Stormwater and watersheds


Washington, D.C.

Tree-lined Avenues

key point Consistent funding is better than having a huge influx of funding one year with minimal funding a year or two later.


new trees planted each year by the District’s Urban Forestry Administration


Urban Forests Case Studies

In July 2011, Mayor Vincent Gray announced his Sustainable D.C. initiative, which outlines a series of sustainability goals — from energy consumption to green jobs — that the city wishes to reach by 2032. This new initiative is “crafted for and by the city’s diverse and knowledgeable community with the ultimate goal of making D.C. more socially equitable, environmentally responsible and economically competitive.” Since the 2011 announcement, a number of working groups, involving more than 700 people, were created to offer recommendations for the District’s sustainability plan, and in April 2012, the city unveiled its “A Vision for a Sustainable D.C.”1 This vision contained very specific goals for the District’s tree canopy and parkland: a tree canopy of 40 percent, which was set as a goal a few years earlier, and a natural space within a 10-minute walk of every resident by 2032.2 With approximately 130,000 street trees and other public trees — about nine percent of the city’s total canopy — under its purview, the District Department of Transportation’s Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) will play an important role in helping the city reach this goal. “One thing we find as a common thread is everyone loves the trees on their street, no matter what neighborhood you go to,” says John Thomas, associate director of UFA. “We’ve had people say, ‘We’ll give up our street being paved to protect the trees.’ More and more people seem to be looking at what it would take to keep the trees around.” The District’s street tree program dates back to 1860 when the city established its unique “public parking” — city-owned green strips along the front of every lawn. Unlike many other cities that maintain rights of way, which are often greenspaces between a roadway and a sidewalk, the District’s parking strips may not have a sidewalk differentiating them from a person’s yard. These strips resulted from a combination of Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s vision of a capital with tree-lined streets and a superintendent of streets who wanted a buffer between the dust of the streets and his house. The city planted thousands

of street trees in these spaces in the late 1800s, and for more than a century, maintaining the District’s street trees was the responsibility of the Department of Public Works. Then, in 2000, that responsibility shifted to the newly formed District Department of Transportation (DDOT). Moving to DDOT was a good move, Thomas says. “It allows us to put more emphasis on the importance of street trees and protection of trees in projects,” such as road widening or development projects, he relates. “We’re part of the team that’s making those decisions, and there usually seems to be funding available to do street maintenance projects.” As part of DDOT, a portion of UFA’s funding comes from the city’s fees to use public spaces, such as when restaurants rent sidewalk space or parking space costs. UFA operates on a seven to 10-year pruning cycle and plants 4,500 new trees each year. Thomas relates that having constant maintenance as a result of consistent funding is better than having a huge influx of funding one year with minimal funding a year or two later. In D.C., many partners work together to maintain the city’s canopy, from UFA to others that include Casey Trees, the Council of Governments, Earth Conservation Corporation, Trees for Capital Hill, Trees for Georgetown and Washington Parks and People.


Washington, D.C. Trees shade historic homes in Georgetown

Canopy Concerns In 2002 — after reading an article about the alarming decline in the District’s tree canopy — longtime area resident Betty Brown Casey founded Casey Trees “to restore, enhance and protect the tree canopy of the nation’s capital.”3 “When the city’s taking care of its street trees, then the nonprofits and other groups can work on private lots,” says Mark Buscaino, executive director of Casey Trees. “That’s where we’ve really focused our energy.” A healthy urban forest depends on good collaboration among all of the different entities that play a role in the management of the city’s trees, he adds. “I’ve always firmly believed that it takes a balance to protect and create an urban forest,” Buscaino says. “Nonprofits can’t do it all, but the city can’t do it all either.”

Casey Trees helps the District’s urban forest through a number of different programs focused on themes such as tree education, tree planting, tree care and policy and advocacy:

• The organization’s Citizen Forester program

trains its volunteers to become tree planting experts to assist in Casey Trees’ planting, tree care and other events.

• Its Community Tree Planting program provides

“I’ve always firmly believed that it takes a balance to protect and create an urban forest. Nonprofits can’t do it all, but the city can’t do it all either.” Mark Buscaino Executive Director Casey Trees

individuals and groups with the opportunity to plant trees to revitalize their neighborhoods by planting trees in parks, yards and other spaces both public and private throughout the city.

Stormwater and Watersheds


Casey Trees

Washington, D.C.

key point The unique Water By-Cycle Program uses bikes to water trees in hard-to-access areas.

Tree planting event at Bruce-Monroe Elementary School hosted by Casey Trees

• The Water By-Cycle program uses bicycle

“By land-use type, Washington’s residents control the largest percentage of Possible UTC [Urban Tree Canopy]. Programs that educate residents on tree stewardship and provide incentives for tree planting are essential if Washington is to sustain its tree canopy in the long term.” University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Laboratory report 2010


Urban Forests Case Studies

power to water trees throughout the District, especially in areas where more traditional watering methods, such as trucks, cannot easily navigate.

• Summer Crew — a high school summer job

and training program that is partly funded by UFA through U.S. Forest Service grants— engages 10 high school students every summer to weed, water and mulch trees to improve their chances to survive the first few critical years of their life.

• The organization’s advocacy team is

currently working with the Council of the District of Columbia on the city’s tree protection measures.

• Casey Trees’ annual Tree Report Card provides updates on the state of the District’s canopy.

Engaging the city’s residents in urban forestry will be a key to ensuring long-term success for the District’s trees and greenspaces. A 2010

University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Laboratory analysis of the District’s canopy reveals that “by land-use type, Washington’s residents control the largest percentage of Possible UTC [Urban Tree Canopy]. Programs that educate residents on tree stewardship and provide incentives for tree planting are essential if Washington is to sustain its tree canopy in the long term.”4 UFA’s Thomas relates that working with neighborhood groups is very beneficial because you’re engaging with people who are already invested in the health and vitality of their communities. UFA also connects with individual homeowners through its Canopy Keepers program. With this program, residents apply to adopt a tree near their property, and UFA delivers a free, slow-drip watering tub, which the adopter is responsible for filling with 10 gallons of water every week “from spring bloom until winter freeze.”5 With the District’s warm, humid summers, these extra helping hands help ensure a healthy canopy.

Washington, D.C.

Beyond city-owned and private land, the other primary manager of greenspace in the city is the federal government. Approximately 8,500 acres of the District are administered by the National Park Service (NPS), which is responsible for wellknown greenspaces, such as the National Mall and America’s first and largest urban park, Rock Creek Park.6 The Monumental Core — which includes the National Mall, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the World War II Memorial — contains approximately 17,000 trees.7 These trees provide comfort, beauty and environmental benefits to the tens of millions of individuals that visit the Monumental Core every year.8 These visits can often take their toll on the area’s

trees, though, by compacting the soil, among other ill effects. As a result, the NPS is currently reconstructing the National Mall’s turf and soil. Construction is underway on three of the eight main lawn panels in the National Mall in order to make them more sustainable in the future. Some of this work involves using engineered soil to resist soil compaction and using durable varieties of turf. Other work revolves around enhancing the National Mall’s function as green infrastructure, such as installing underground cisterns to collect stormwater alongside a new irrigation system. By using stormwater for irrigation purposes, planners hope to help improve the regional water quality9 — a major concern for many in the city.


BILLION gallons of combined sewage overflow enter the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers each year.

Protecting the Chesapeake Watershed In 2008, 39 percent of the District was covered with impervious surface.10 This plays a role in the combined sewage overflows of 1.5 billion gallons into the city’s Anacostia River and 850 million gallons into the Potomac River each year.11 Taking the lead on addressing this issue is the District Department of the Environment (DDOE). Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit.12 This permit regulates what kind of and how much discharge is allowable into the District’s various waterways. To stay in compliance with the permit and

View of the Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool


DDOE is responsible for administering the District’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit — more commonly referred to as a Municipal Separate

Stormwater and watersheds stormwater Watersheds


Washington, D.C. key point Decreasing impervious surface is where the District and other cities will see major gains in canopy coverage over time.

improve the health of the city’s waterways, DDOE has implemented a number of incentive programs to encourage green infrastructure and stormwater reduction.

program has also expanded to the District’s schools, with RiverSmart Schools offering schoolyard greening projects that teach gardening skills while improving a school’s green areas.15

In fall 2007, DDOE launched its RiverSmart Homes program to involve District homeowners in stormwater management. Through RiverSmart Homes, DDOE covers up to $1,200 in green infrastructure enhancements — rain barrels, rain gardens, large shade trees, impervious surface replacements and native landscaping — for approved homes to reduce stormwater runoff.13 The program has been readily adopted by city residents, as the wait time for an initial audit by a DDOE inspector to see if your home qualifies and which improvements are recommend is between three and four months.14 The

For those spaces where yard adaptations may not be possible, DDOE is encouraging homeowners and building owners to install green infrastructure on their roofs with its Green Roof Rebate Program. In 2012, the rebate program offered $5 per square foot capped at 5,000 square feet. The program began in 2007, and the District estimates that the city now has 75 green roofs covering approximately 350,000 square feet.16


Urban Forests Case Studies


Timothy Vollmer

Anacostia River

F Delventhal

Washington, D.C. View of the U.S. Capitol from the Potomac River

Another aspect of the city’s MS4 permit is a focus on functional landscaping: “The District encourages developers through training sessions and preliminary design review to incorporate functional landscaping techniques in their site development plans.”17 As part of this work, the District Department of Transportation reviews all development and construction site plans that impact rights of way to look for ways to reduce impervious surfaces, increase space for trees and reduce stormwater runoff. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, UFA received more than $4 million to remove paving, expand tree boxes and create new tree planting sites. Decreasing impervious surface is where the District and other cities will see major gains in canopy coverage over time. With all of these various programs in place to help support urban forest work, the District is headed in the right direction for a healthy, sustainable

forest well into the future. But in a city where different entities control different tracts of land, coordination will be the key to continuing success. “We have streets where UFA has trees on one side of the street, and on other side, they’re managed by the Architect of the Capitol,” says UFA’s Thomas. “We’re constantly looking at boundaries and where the lines are. Who maintains what? And everyone seems to have a different strategy. It just means we have to have open communication and constant communication with the other entities.” Cooperation and open dialogue are essential to the city’s continued fight to protect and restore its urban forest because while district, federal and private partners have been converging for years to build and maintain the city’s urban forest, this work will continue for years to come: “Change happens over generations,” says Casey Trees’ Buscaino.

350,000 square feet of green roofs have been installed in the District.

Special Thanks to: Mark Buscaino, executive director, Casey Trees John Thomas, associate director, District of Columbia Department of Transportation Urban Forestry Administration

View of Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park Stormwater and Watersheds







Milwaukee Quick Facts Who Forestry Division in Environmental Services within the city’s Department of Public Works Staff 171 full-time personnel, including a city forester, district managers, urban forestry managers, a technical services manager, urban forestry technicians, crew leaders and arborists, inspectors, an irrigation specialist, clerical staff, nursery staff and staff in the small-equipment repair shop Canopy 193,000 street and boulevard trees in the rights of way KEY Forestry TASKS Street tree maintenance; boulevard landscaping and maintenance; emergency services, including storm response and snow plowing; contract administration; code enforcement Partners Milwaukee County Department of Parks, Recreation & Culture 28

Citywide Greening Initiative Invasive Pest Management KEY TOPICS

Long-term Maintenance Plan Public-Public Partnership Stormwater and Watershed Management

More than two decades ago, the management team in

the city of Milwaukee’s Forestry Division had a departmentsaving idea: They cross-trained their urban forestry staff in snow and ice removal. Today, Milwaukee’s forestry staff accounts for half of the team responsible each winter for monitoring and removing the city’s yearly average of more than 50 inches of snowfall.1 The fact that these urban foresters provide such a crucial service each winter has enabled the forestry division to remain a key player in the city of Milwaukee. Because of its shared snow- and ice-removal responsibilities with Sanitation, Forestry and Sanitation merged in 2004 to form the Environmental Services Division in the Department of Public Works. This unique service alignment improves snow- and ice-removal operations and provides crossover manpower from each respective section as needed for rapid cleanup of trees damaged by wind storms and garbage- or recycling-collection assistance when prolonged snow and ice operations impact collection schedules. It has also created a strong team to care for Milwaukee’s urban forest.

Stormwater and watersheds



Re-routing the Rain

key point Cross-training forestry staff enables team to be a key player in the city.

“We take pride in our diverse abilities, but don’t want to dilute our quality or quantity.” ramsey Radakovich Deputy Regional Manager Milwaukee County Department of Parks, Recreation & Culture

Since the 1990s, Milwaukee has conducted various tree canopy studies, including measuring the benefits provided by the city’s trees. According to one of the most recent analyses, a 2008 assessment using the U.S. Forest Service’s i-Tree and UFORE tools, more than 3.3 million trees are growing in the city, covering 21.6 percent of the city’s land with tree canopy.2 Approximately 200,000 of these trees are street trees, which are cared for by Environmental Services. According to Milwaukee’s Forestry Services manager, David Sivyer, about 98 percent of all street sites that are able to support trees currently have trees, and these trees help mitigate some of the city’s stormwater issues. Milwaukee, like many cities, has a combined sewer system in place, meaning that untreated sewage and stormwater all flow into one pipe system for treatment. As a result, when heavy rain hits, the system’s 2,446 miles of sewers3 can back up and dump untreated water straight into Lake Michigan and nearby rivers and waterways. For example, a torrential downpour in July 2010 resulted in an estimated two billion-plus gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater entering waterways in the Milwaukee area.4 The city of Milwaukee is turning increasingly to green solutions to help with its stormwater control. In 2004, Mayor Tom Barrett created Milwaukee’s first Green Team, which has been tasked over the years with creating a sustainability plan for the city. Major components of this plan involve green infrastructure and natural resources management. As the managers of greenspaces across the city, Environmental Services’ projects are key elements in the city’s overall sustainability. Not long after the formation of the Green Team, Environmental Services began examining the 120 miles (476 acres) of green boulevards that line the city. About 80 to 90 percent of Milwaukee’s 1,400 paved streets are pitched toward the roadway edge or right of way, according to Scott


Urban Forests Case Studies

Baran, an Environmental Services landscape designer. The remaining percentage pitch toward the middle of the roadway, and that’s where Environmental Services has been focusing its efforts for more than five years to create bioswales in the roadway medians. Bioswales, or landscaped areas with gently sloped sides designed to control water drainage, offer a number of advantages. First, by design, they help control water flow. Instead of running off the street into the city’s pipe system, rainwater instead runs into the soil of the bioswale, where it’s absorbed by the plants and shrubs. Second, bioswales reduce maintenance costs. It’s less time consuming to maintain the bioswale’s native shrubs and perennials than to maintain grass. By focusing on roadways already pitched toward the median, Environmental Services was able to create bioswales at reduced cost, as only excavation and curb cuts around the sewer grates were needed instead of whole-scale repaving and re-pitching efforts. Environmental Services isn’t the only group, though, looking to reduce and refine maintenance of landscaped areas in Milwaukee — nor are they the only group that has realized the value of cross training.



city of Milwaukee







Caring for the Parkland More than 5,400 acres of parkland in the city are managed by Milwaukee County’s Department of Parks, Recreation & Culture (MCP). Overall, Milwaukee County has approximately 15,000 acres of parks, 6,000 of which are actively managed (mowed, maintained, etc.) for recreational use. This management is done by a well-trained team of natural resource technicians, who are responsible for myriad tasks in the county’s parks: tree resources and health; turf mowing and snow-removal assistance; general construction, such as golf course drainage systems and tees; landscaping; asphalt maintenance and repair; minor storm sewer repairs; and playground maintenance and repairs. Not too many years ago, though, these responsibilities would have been divided among multiple positions. Ramsey Radakovich, deputy regional manager with MCP, relates that in the mid-1980s, MCP’s tree-care staff was actually splintered between nursery personnel, forestry workers and equipment workers. Over the years, those unique positions have been eliminated as the staff became cross trained in all elements of the work, which has also allowed the department to extend its work. “As the staff has improved their proficiency and capacity, we’ve added new tasks and responsibilities, such as natural areas management, trails coordination and maintenance, and athletic field renovations,” says Radakovich. Despite this increased workload, MCP is very cautious about overextending the talented

staff. “We take pride in our diverse abilities, but don’t want to dilute our quality or quantity,” Radakovich says. “There are always more things that need to be done and work to do, but our staff at MCP has worked hard to maintain a high level of quality in the work.” One of the ways MCP may reduce the strain on its staff is by converting some of the county’s parkland to passive use. The department is currently looking at its actively managed acres to determine their type of use and see where there are opportunities to convert areas from mowed grass to natural prairies and woodlands. Radakovich indicates that the department would especially like to connect forest fragments that currently exist on some of the land — which is also a goal of some of the Environmental Services team’s work.

key point Converting mowed grass areas to prairies and woodlands can help connect natural areas and reduce maintenance demands.


new trees planted along Milwaukee’s boulevards

Environmental Services has been replacing smaller, dying, ornamental trees with larger shade trees, incorporating 4,500 new trees along its boulevards. These trees are being spaced much closer than those that have been planted in rights of way in the past, leading to a denser canopy. By planting the median trees closer together, the trees create a nice canopy when they touch the

Stormwater and Watersheds



right-of-way trees on the other side of the street. They also have a better chance of survival, as the medians often experience the rigors of salt dumping in the winter. Beyond the improvements to the city’s boulevard system, Milwaukee also has a number of other

sustainable systems in place, including ones that focus on energy efficiency, wind and solar power, green roofs and rain gardens, and converting vacant lots into gardens. All of these programs, though, cost the city money, and it’s up to the various departments to demonstrate why the city should invest in green instead of gray infrastructure.

Securing Greenbacks

“Any time that you have an employee that can do more than just one thing, it makes it a lot harder to cut those positions,” Jeff Boeder Urban Forestry District Manager City of Milwaukee

One of the biggest challenges that any public program faces is always its budget. In lean times and times of plenty, finding funding to continue work — let alone increase it — is never an easy proposition, which is why Milwaukee’s forestry team makes sure it’s always ready for those debates. One way is through its diverse staff. Beyond being trained in snow and ice for the winter months, Milwaukee’s forestry staff is trained across environmental disciplines from gardening to tree pruning, meaning fewer seasonal workers, but also a work staff that is responsible for a lot more of the city’s maintenance. “Any time that you have an employee that can do more than just one thing, it makes it a lot harder to cut those positions,” says Jeff Boeder, Milwaukee urban forestry district manager.

$15 million in stormwater savings provided by Milwaukee’s urban forest


Urban Forests Case Studies

What helps maintain this cross-disciplinary approach, and also helps the team’s diversity, is Environmental Services’ training program. Beginning in the early 1980s, all new employees to the forestry team had to conduct a six-month training program. Degree or no degree, every individual goes through the program, which is a combination of classroom work for topics such as soil science and dendrochronology to in-the-field tree climbing and pruning. Every member of the forestry team is equipped with the skills to handle myriad functions. With a solid staff in place, Environmental Services next focuses on researching Milwaukee’s urban canopy because if the team can quantify the benefit of the city’s trees, they can secure funding to maintain them.

“Our budget’s defined by the resource needs of our tree population. Much of what we do is supported by our research studies,” says Forestry Services Manager Sivyer. Over the years, the city has partnered with universities to study its canopy in order to create working goals based in science — even the city’s pruning cycle is based on scientific research of the biomass produced by the city’s trees. Research, such as a 2009 analysis by American Forests that revealed that the city’s trees and greenspaces provide approximately $15 million to the city in stormwater savings, helped the Forestry Services team acquire additional budget sources. That same year, because of the well-documented stormwater benefits provided by Milwaukee’s tree population, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and the Common Council began funding forestry programs such as tree pruning, tree planting, tree protection through the city’s stormwater fee. This decision, based on the research results and other budgetary considerations, means that half of the program’s budget is no longer dependent upon the city’s general tax levy. As Sivyer puts it, the forestry team uses its research to define its budget, instead of defend it.

focus story

Beginning in the 1950s, Dutch elm disease (DED) swept across the Northeast and Midwest, leaving ecosystems — especially those in urban areas — devastated by the loss of millions of trees. Milwaukee lost an estimated 200,000 elms during the worst of the epidemic. The city of Milwaukee’s Forestry Services manager, David Sivyer, estimates that 50 years later, the city still has not regained the canopy it had at the time of DED’s outbreak. Unfortunately for Milwaukee, another serious threat to the city’s tree canopy is on the horizon. Emerald ash borer (EAB) killed its first ash trees in Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario, in 2002.5 Since then, it’s spread throughout the Midwest and even east to Maryland. In July 2012, Milwaukee had its first confirmed cases of EAB, and considering that approximately 17 percent of Milwaukee’s canopy is ash, the effect could be dire. The forestry experts in the area, though, aren’t sitting around, just waiting for it to happen: They’re going on the offensive.

spectrum. Hyperspectral imaging was an important tool used to identify ash trees at risk of EAB infestation and help Milwaukeeans prepare for its eventual arrival. The combination of the city’s spatial street tree inventory, i-Tree UFORE Ecosystem Analysis and hyperspectral imagery provided the scientific basis for a comprehensive risk-management strategy for EAB. Not long after the imaging was completed, Environmental Services began ash trees per year injecting injected for EAB approximately protection 13,000 ash trees per year to protect them from infestation. Then, an intern fleet was dispatched to visit all private properties that the hyperspectral imaging had identified as having ash trees to confirm the presence of ash trees and to provide information to the homeowners on the threat that EAB poses to their trees. This canvassing


is being followed up in 2012 with a demonstration project showcasing options for EAB management, including chemical injections or removal and replacement of ash trees on private property, funded through a grant with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The city of Milwaukee hopes that all of this will help mitigate EAB’s effects, but the city is also taking proactive steps to protect its canopy from future threats to specific tree species by diversifying its canopy at the block level. In the past, the city’s tree-diversity goals were achieved by planting uniform species on public land throughout the city based on street or block themes or aesthetic concerns. Now, the goal is for each block to contain four different species. By increasing the diversity of its canopy within each block, Milwaukee hopes to forestall devastation on par with what was experienced with Dutch elm disease, when entire blocks of trees were killed and removed over a short period of time.

city of Milwaukee

Learning From the Past, Protecting the Future

587,000 trees at risk from EAB

In 2008, the City of Milwaukee utilized the U.S. Forest Service’s i-Tree and UFORE tools to quantify the number of ash trees at risk to EAB in the city limits: a staggering 587,000 trees. Then, in 2009, the forestry team used hyperspectral imaging — the first successful use of the technology in a U.S. city environment — to map the location of those ash trees. The technology uses information from across the electromagnetic spectrum to identify specific objects based on their unique “signatures,” or reflectance in the

Injection to protect ash against EAB

Stormwater and Watersheds


city of Milwaukee

Milwaukee An area where Environmental Services has made boulevard landscaping changes to reduce maintenance costs while maintaining asthetic appeal

Making Every Dollar Count

key point Businesses contribute to planting new trees since trees beautify their areas, which attracts more consumers.

Despite its general success receiving budget support from the city, the Environmental Services group also looks to outside sources for funding and revenue to keep its existing programs afloat and to fund new ones. As a division of the Department of Public Works, Environmental Services is always at the table when new business developments come to the city for consideration. All project proposals that come through the department from new water lines to new street lighting have to be approved by Environmental Services. According to retired Milwaukee Urban Forestry District Manager Ken Ottman, “What led us to having strength as a department was our position


Urban Forests Case Studies

at the table with the other key infrastructure partners in the city.� Being at the table also means that the forestry team is aware of new developments in the works throughout the city, as business improvement districts (BIDs) have to bring their projects to the Department of Public Works for approval. Environmental Services capitalizes on this connection.


“The business districts saw that street trees were something they wanted to use to beautify their areas to attract people into their business improvement districts, so … they’re willing to put the money forward to put some new tree plantings in place,” says Milwaukee District Manager Boeder. When BIDs elect to participate in streetscaping activities, the forestry team provides the expertise and information on the requirements for greenspaces within the developments, while the BIDs put up the funds for planting and maintenance care. Similar arrangements often happen with suburban and neighborhood developers, which helps keep the division’s costs down, but also increases the canopy on private property, benefiting all of the city’s residents. As Landscape Designer Baran adds, it’s important to get into the development process at the beginning and get the designing architect to incorporate structural soil and space for trees in the design plans because without space and soil, there can be no future tree canopy: “If we can’t expand the soil mass for it, it’s just a vicious cycle.” Another way the forestry division cuts costs is through the city’s nursery. For decades, the city of Milwaukee has owned and operated a 160acre nursery. In the 1970s and 80s, this nursery produced millions of flowers each year for the city’s boulevard system. These days, the nursery has expanded its focus and now produces the large-caliper shade trees that the city uses along its streets. This keeps the division’s costs down, as purchasing the trees from unaffiliated nurseries would cost a great deal more than growing its own. Plus, it provides the added benefit of allowing the forestry staff to choose the types of trees being grown for use around the city. Then, there’s the $100,000 in revenue generated annually from contracts with other area cities for plants and trees. Beyond the BIDs and nursery, Environmental Services has another funding weapon: grants.

With a grant writer on staff, the team pursues a number of state, federal and private grants to fund their work and research. Over the past five years, Environmental Services has been awarded $2.4 million in grant funds for forestry projects. One grant gave the division funding to convert asphalt parking lots at Milwaukee public schools into greenspaces with turf and trees. Another grant awarded the division with funds to conduct a public relations campaign geared toward educating Milwaukee’s residents about the benefits that the city’s trees provide, such as one billboard’s statement that Milwaukee’s trees provide a $900,000 cooling benefit. The goal of this campaign, which has been conducted in the last few years, is to increase public awareness of the ecological-service benefits of trees, while also garnering support and funding for Environmental Services’ work. As Boeder points out, people often take their trees for granted, but by being aware of their benefits, Milwaukee’s residents can better appreciate the importance of their city’s urban forest and encourage elected officials to keep forestry management a funding priority. “If you didn’t have trees or if the trees were gone, that would be one thing that people wouldn’t stand for,” says Milwaukee County Parks’ Radakovich. “It’s one of the things people value.” Part of this value rests in the fact that the parks and trees have been a priority for generations. MCP is celebrating its 105th anniversary in 2012, and the city of Milwaukee hired its first forester almost a century ago in 1918. This long-standing care for the area’s greenspaces — combined with a number of environmentally conscious mayors during the early and mid-1900s — has resulted in a city that has a history of caring deeply about its public services and maintaining the city’s natural beauty.


acres are dedicated to Milwaukee’s cityowned nursery.

Special Thanks to: Scott A. Baran, landscape designer, City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works Environmental Services Division Jeff Boeder, Forestry Services district manager, City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works Environmental Services Division Ken Ottman, president, First Choice Tree Care, Inc. Ramsey Radakovich, deputy regional manager, Milwaukee County Department of Parks, Recreation & Culture David Sivyer, Forestry Services manager, City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works Environmental Services Division

As Radakovich adds, “Being that Milwaukee is such an urban area, to be able to go out and walk in areas where you can get lost in nature in your own backyard is something to be appreciated.”

Stormwater and Watersheds








ia Arizona

Sacramento Quick Facts Who Urban Forestry section in the Department of Public Works Staff 27 full-time personnel, including an urban forestry manager, an operations manager, crews and inspectors Canopy 100,000 street and park trees, plus 10-15,000 city facility trees actively maintained by the department and 85,000 street trees in public utility easements maintained by property owners KEY FORESTRY Tasks Street tree maintenance; contract administration; code enforcement Partners California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), Sacramento Tree Foundation 36

Energy Conservation and Heat Islands Long-term Maintenance Plan KEY TOPICS

Neighborhood Improvement Projects Public-Private Partnership Regional Cooperative Effort Tree Giveaways

As E. Gregory McPherson and Nina Luttinger convey in

their 1998 article “From Nature to Nurture: The History of Sacramento’s Urban Forest,” in the 1800s, Sacramento was known as a City of Plains, but in just 100 years, it would be transformed into a City of Trees. They detail how: • Less than 10 years after the Sacramento area was first settled in 1839, land lots were set aside for city parks; • By 1853, the City Council would plant trees along the city’s levees; • The city would institute a planting ordinance in 1874 to plant eucalyptus trees for public health reasons; and • In the early 1900s, Sacramento Bee editor C.K. McClatchy and others would become strong advocates for protecting and increasing the city’s tree canopy.1

This is a city steeped in a rich tree culture. Regardless of history, though, Sacramento’s modern urban forest faces the same difficulties as many others across the country — namely, funding and maintenance concerns. In Sacramento, three dedicated partners are committed to tackling these problems and caring for the city’s trees.

Energy and Heat Islands



From Parks to Transportation to Public Works key point To maintain a healthy urban forest, Sacramento is focused on a three-point management plan: 1. a healthy pruning cycle; 2. planting new trees every year; and 3. properly irrigating new trees in the first few years.


street, park and cityfacility trees are managed by Sacramento’s Urban Forestry section.


Urban Forests Case Studies

Sacramento created its Parks and Recreation Department in 1911. For the next 96 years, this group would oversee the city’s urban forestry concerns — from annual street tree plantings beginning in 1923 to a series of tree-damaging catastrophic windstorms from the 1930s to 1950s to an aging, sick elm canopy in the 1980s.2 By the early 2000s, though, the city’s urban forestry program was languishing as a tiny section for Parks Maintenance within the Parks and Recreation Department. That would soon change. From 2003 to 2004, the department brought in an industry expert to conduct a best management practices study. This study focused on operations activities, such as crew training levels and work output. When the study was completed, a recommendation that would change the city’s urban forestry practices emerged: to elevate urban forestry out of Parks Maintenance into a division of its own that would be run by a new urban forester who would serve as the division manager. This idea was seconded by a citizen advisory group that was put together to offer feedback on prioritizing the study’s recommendations. In 2005, the city hired Joe Benassini to fill this management role: “The idea was to address not just some of the operational things, but also some of the policy issues because the best management practices study also pointed out [urban forestry’s] lack of strategic planning and policy foundation.” For the next several years, the Urban Forestry team worked to address structural issues within the new division, hiring Todd Martin, an experienced operations manager with a background in municipal, utility and commercial arboriculture. The division would devote many staff hours and resources to training, bringing its staff and crew up-to-speed with the best practices for urban

forestry work. Part of this work involved looking to outside experts to help with maintaining the city’s canopy. “One of the key elements was to recognize that we couldn’t do it all ourselves,” says Benassini. “Our crews have specific talents and responsibilities, but there was just no way to get through all of it. We had a five-year backlog of work orders. Today, we have none.” A few years into Benassini’s tenure as the urban forestry manager, the division would undergo another change, as it was transferred from Parks and Recreation to the Department of Transportation in 2007 — a change that made logistical sense because 70 percent of the Urban Forestry team’s work focused on right-of-way spaces, which are the purview of Transportation. This change also allowed Parks and Recreation to focus on the social issues of recreation, while the maintenance side was handled elsewhere. Crosstraining opportunities between forestry and street crews arose from the new arrangement. In 2012, the city departments would realign again. Transportation became Transportation Engineering, narrowing its focus to traffic engineering concerns, and Urban Forestry found itself as a section of the Department of Public Works. However, this latest administrative change

City of Sacramento

Sacramento Trees provide shade for a Sacramento neighborhood.

hasn’t affected Urban Forestry’s plans or focus. “The objective has always been to go from a reactive to a proactive goal for tree work,” says Benassini. “One of the struggles that cities have is that they were founded, developed and planted — or sections were — and then the planners moved on,” Benassini continues. “You end up with an evenaged stand that grows, flourishes and provides a wonderful canopy and then begins to decline as a result of trees aging. The big trick is how you provide for a mix of trees across the city that provide even benefits citywide over a long period of time sustainably.” In Sacramento, the Urban Forestry team is addressing these concerns in a few ways. Step one was beginning a three- to five-year pruning cycle in 2007 and 2008 — which

matches industry standards for tree pruning, but is often not something cities are able to accomplish with limited funds — to help protect and maintain the existing urban canopy. Step two is planting between 1,000 and 2,000 trees per year to maintain the diversity of ages in the canopy. Step three is ensuring these new trees survive in Sacramento’s arid climate by addressing irrigation needs for the first three to five years of a newly planted tree’s life, along with early structural pruning. With this system in place, Sacramento’s Urban Forestry team hopes to maintain and increase the 115,000 street, park and city-facility trees for which it is responsible, particularly in underserved areas where canopy coverage is low. While Urban Forestry is doing this work, other groups in the city are focused on building Sacramento’s urban forest to help with other concerns.

“The big trick is how you provide for a mix of trees across the city that provides even benefits citywide over a long period of time sustainably.” Joe Benassini Manager Sacramento Department of Public Works Urban Forestry section

Energy and Heat Islands


City of Sacramento

Sacramento key point SMUD’s Shade Tree program recognizes that the energy-saving benefits of the program are not instantaneous; they accumulate over time.

Sacramento Urban Forestry staff members and others during the removal of an old camphor tree in the city’s midtown area

Saving Energy

“There was no information on the kWh savings a tree could provide. We turned this program into science. We have all kinds of data now.” Misha Sarkovich Ph.D. Sacramento Municipal Utility District


Urban Forests Case Studies

There are two essential things to know about the air in Sacramento. First, it’s polluted. The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2012 report card gave Sacramento County “F”s for both high ozone and particle pollution days — along with much of California.3 Second, it’s warm for much of the year. Average July and August temperatures are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.4 Thirty years ago, the publicly owned Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) recognized that trees could help with reducing the utility’s air conditioning electric load, while simultaneously helping with other environmental issues. In 1989, by a public vote, SMUD’s Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station was shut down, causing the electric utility to lose up to half of its power capacity. After weighing a number of options to retain the effectiveness of its services, SMUD’s management and board of directors decided to “invest aggressively in energy-efficiency programs,” according to Misha Sarkovich, Ph.D., with SMUD’s customer programs and services. This led to the 1990 creation of SMUD’s Shade Tree program.

Based on the knowledge that properly placed trees around buildings can reduce heating and cooling costs for homes and businesses, SMUD approached the nonprofit Sacramento Tree Foundation about setting up a large-scale tree planting program designed to reduce energy needs among SMUD’s customers. The program was simple in premise. SMUD would provide the funds for trees and contract with the Tree Foundation to deliver them and provide planting demos and other expert help. And, it did help get trees in the ground — but it didn’t help energy demands.


“In the early years, we didn’t have firm guidelines. It was basically plant the tree anywhere but north,” says Sarkovich. “That’s exactly what the Sacramento Tree Foundation did. Sometimes the trees were planted so far away from the building that they couldn’t provide any direct shading, so we could get no benefit. We learned quickly that not all trees are created equal — that large trees provide much more shading canopy than smaller trees, and that trees planted on the west offer more direct shading benefits than trees planted on the east or south.” In 1992, SMUD hired a team devoted to figuring out the cost effectiveness of its energy-efficiency programs, including shade trees. This was Sarkovich’s task, as an economist by trade, but a task that would be difficult because no secondary market research was available in 1992 on this topic. “There was no information on the kWh (kilowatt-hour) savings a tree could provide,” Sarkovich relates. “We turned this program into science. We have all kinds of data now.” Over the next few years, SMUD compiled extensive information on the shading benefits of trees and, with the help of U.S. Forest Service researchers, published the results of the research in 1995. These results came in the form of modeling 72 different possible shading scenarios. Each scenario was assigned a present value benefit (PVB) amount, which ranged from just a few cents to up to $150. Moving forward, SMUD would focus on placing trees where the PVB values were greatest. Sarkovich relates that in order to receive a tree from SMUD, a Sacramento Tree Foundation community forester must survey the site and identify if there is a shading scenario that will provide a PVB value between $20-$150 (approximately 20 scenarios exist that would provide this value). If so, the customer qualifies for a tree — even if it’s not the small ornamental tree the family hoped for, as trees are placed for their economic and environmental benefit and not aesthetic desires of the homeowner. “This is not a free tree program,” says Sarkovich. “This is a shade tree program. We are planting trees specifically to maximize shading.”

Over the years, SMUD has continued to update its modeling with new data and has made sure that the data is transferrable to any community or home in the country by incorporating details such as the user’s electricity costs; type, number, age and location of trees; and U.S. location to determine climate zone. Anyone can visit SMUD’s website (www.smud.org) to calculate the energy savings of a building’s trees by using the tree benefits calculator built from SMUD’s years of research and data. For SMUD, the program has been responsible for more than half a million new trees in Sacramento since 1990 at a cost of more than $35 million. More interesting, though, is the cost savings for the company — or lack thereof. The goal of SMUD’s Shade Tree program is to create $700,000 in PVB with new tree plantings each year, but the annual budget for the plantings is $1.5 million, roughly twice the amount the utility will be theoretically saving. But while SMUD might not appear to be gaining monetarily from this program, Sarkovich and the utility’s management believe that the benefits extend beyond the money. Sarkovich is quick to point out that the program’s PVB results don’t factor in the monetized value of carbon sequestration or air quality gains from the new trees — although, SMUD’s tree benefits calculator does provide estimates on the amount of carbon sequestered by trees. He also relates how the program is SMUD’s most recognizable program, and in annual surveys of SMUD customers, it receives a 98 percent satisfaction rating, making it a huge public relations benefit for the company. Maybe most importantly, though, is SMUD’s recognition that the benefits of the program accumulate over time.

SMUD Shade tree Program About the Program Since 1990, SMUD has partnered with the Sacramento Tree Foundation to provide free shade trees to customers. The organizations provide the trees and planting information and restrictions to homeowners, who are then responsible for putting the tree in the ground and caring for it.

Annual Budget $1.5 million

Annual No. of Trees 18,000

Program investment since 1990 $35 million

Program lifetime no. of trees More than 500,000

“What we’re doing now is reaping the benefit of the trees planted in 1990,” says Sarkovich. “It takes years for a tree to grow and develop any kind of canopy. You have to be patient. The beauty of this is that we recognize that one individual tree provides a small benefit, but if you plant a large number of trees and multiply it by a small benefit, you have a huge benefit.”

Energy and Heat Islands



A Community of Trees

“We have a very strong tradition of planting trees in Sacramento. In one era, it will be local government, in one era outstanding individuals and other times the Chamber of Commerce or Boy Scouts.” Ray Tretheway Executive Director Sacramento Tree Foundation

by doubling sacramento’s urban canopy:


• million pounds of air pollutants removed annually;

• years typically added to ashpalt lifespan;

• percent increase in property values


Urban Forests Case Studies

“Trees have no political boundaries,” says Ray Tretheway, executive director of the Sacramento Tree Foundation, “so why just focus on one city or county?” This question led the Sacramento Tree Foundation to lead a charge in the early 2000s for a regional approach to urban forestry in Sacramento. In 2001, elected officials from 28 Sacramento-area municipalities signed an Urban Forest Compact, and over the next four years, the Sacramento Tree Foundation worked with these public partners and citizen groups to develop the Greenprint Initiative — designed to be a companion to the region’s Blueprint Initiative for gray infrastructure initiatives. The Greenprint Initiative has a simple, yet complex goal: “To guide cities and counties of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments region in developing urban forest initiatives.”5 It plans to do this through a combination of properly managing public trees, as well as expanding the region’s trees by five million; adopting strong tree ordinances and policies regulating both public and private trees; and engaging in community partnerships since 80 percent of the area’s urban forest is on private land. “Urban trees are all about people and their value and benefits,” says Tretheway. “We know that there are a lot of businesses and a lot of governmental departments, agencies and elected officials that want to invest in worthy and successful civic engagement and volunteer activities.” The key to the Sacramento Tree Foundation’s success has been making the connection with these groups and working together toward common goals.

When SMUD turned to the Sacramento Tree Foundation to help implement its Shade Tree program, it helped expand the small nonprofit comprised of volunteer, part-time staff into a major partner for urban forestry work. Today, the two partners plant 18,000 trees a year, but while 13,000 go toward the traditional shade tree model, 5,000 are serving another purpose. In 1998, SMUD began designating some of its trees for a community trees program. Designed to help enhance the tree canopy in public areas like schools and parks, these larger (15-gallon) trees don’t fall under SMUD’s shade policies, allowing the Tree Foundation, SMUD and Urban Forestry program to work together to get trees planted in needed areas in the city. But the Greenprint Initiative has a major uphill battle to fight, as its Blueprint companion indicated a need for more public or low-impact transportation to help a city that’s population continues to expand — expansions that are eliminating urban forest space. “Where we had projects that might accommodate 10 housing units per acre, we’re now getting 50 units on an acre. That means zero sidewalks. That means instead of a 30-foot yard, you have a 10-foot yard,” says urban forestry manager Benassini. “There is less and less space in the modern urban area for green infrastructure. It’s troubling. There’s no place to put big trees. Trees are not always considered part of the necessary infrastructure. They’re considered an amenity rather than a necessity.”

Sacramento Tree Foundation

Sacramento Tree Foundation


Planting trees at a Sacramento Tree Foundation event

However, according to the Greenprint Initiative, by doubling the region’s urban canopy, 10 million pounds of air pollutants will be removed annually, while shade trees also can extend asphalt’s life by 10 years and increase property values by 10 percent.6 “We all talk about the importance of urban forestry and trees,” relates Benassini, “but somehow between talking about how important it is and executing it, we’ve got a disconnect. We need policies, like tree ordinances, that reflect that the community support is there and what the elected officials think are great ideas.”

Getting Sacramento’s policies and actions to align with the city’s pride in its trees is a major priority for the Urban Forestry program over the next several years, but thanks to the fact that the city has a history of tree planting and preservation, accomplishing that task successfully is very feasible. “We have a very strong tradition of planting trees in Sacramento,” says Tretheway. “In one era, it will be local government, in one era outstanding individuals and other times the Chamber of Commerce or Boy Scouts. We have a rich and deep history of trees.”

Community planting leader and intern with Sacramento Tree Foundation

Special Thanks to: Joe Benassini, manager, City of Sacramento Department of Transportation Urban Forestry Misha Sarkovich, Ph.D., customer programs and services, Sacramento Municipal Utility District Ray Tretheway, executive director, Sacramento Tree Foundation

Energy and Heat Islands


Lo ui si a


Mississ ipp i

New Mexico





Austin Quick Facts Who Urban Forestry Programs within the city of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department and Planning and Development Review Department Staff 25 staff members, including a city arborist, an urban forester, utility line clearance personnel, neighborhood planners, professional foresters, forestry specialists for inspections, an environmental program coordinator and a planting supervisor KEY FORESTRY Tasks Private and public tree preservation and removals are regulated and enforced by the city arborist program. Public-tree management is handled by multiple departments and involves planning, planting, maintenance and emergency services. Partners Austin Water Utility, Watershed Protection Department, Public Works Department, Austin Energy, Office of Sustainability and TreeFolks 44

Energy Conservation and Heat Islands Neighborhood Improvement Projects KEY TOPICS

Public-Private Partnership Public-Public Partnership Tree Giveaways Tree-care Training Program Urban Forest Management Plan

It gets hot in Texas. The state’s capital, Austin, experienced 90 days at temperatures higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit in 20111, and each summer, the city basks in sunlight 75 percent of the time.2 With city buildings and paved streets reflecting back this sunshine and heat, temperatures in Austin can be two to nine degrees hotter than in the surrounding countryside — a phenomenon known as an urban heat island. In 2001, Austin’s city council recognized this problem in the capital and passed a resolution implementing a Heat Island Containment Policy, which created new initiatives for combating extra heat in the city.3 Many of these initiatives revolved around trees, some of nature’s best temperature regulators.

Energy and Heat Islands



The Tree Lady key point Austin passed its first tree ordinance in 1983, protecting trees on both public and private property.

“[Trees] are the hardest working and most efficient of all city workers. They continually provide benefits with little to no investment.” MICHAEL EMBESI Arborist City of Austin

She may have only served one two-year term on the Austin City Council, but Margret Hofmann’s influence on the city of Austin has been felt long after her elected post in the 1970s. Hofmann, a German Jewish immigrant who survived the horrors of World War II, was a devoted grassroots peace advocate and also a staunch supporter of Austin’s historic trees. Her commitment to preserving Austin’s natural treasures not only earned her the nickname of “Tree Lady,” but also led to the creation of Austin’s first tree ordinance in the early 1980s. Hofmann’s fight for Austin’s trees in the 1970s revolved around recognizing trees for their value. Hofmann once told the Austin AmericanStatesman, “I’ve always been amazed that we pay so much attention and spend a great deal of money on old houses — historical buildings, often no more than 100 years old — whereas we don’t consider trees that are 400, 500, 600 years old of the same importance.”4 Hofmann encouraged Austinites to protect and recognize Austin’s historic trees and helped create a registry of 200 of the city’s oldest, biggest trees.5 In 1983, her efforts came to fruition when Austin passed a progressive

tree ordinance that would set the basis for protecting the trees for decades to come. In 2010, Austin passed a new ordinance, the Heritage Tree Ordinance, which offers even more protection for Austin’s trees. Unlike many other cities around the country, Austin’s tree ordinances don’t just protect the public trees, but they also protect trees on private property. Austin’s ordinances outline a classification system for trees based on size and species, and generally, the larger a tree is, the more protection it is given. Based on the economic and practical functions these trees provide to the city, the protection is warranted. “Trees are working for us. They are the hardest working and most efficient of all city workers,” says Michael Embesi, a city of Austin arborist. “They continually provide benefits with little to no investment. Trees don’t take time off for vacation or sick leave, nor require medical coverage.”


Urban Forests Case Studies

Victor Ovalle / Austin Parks and Recreation

Austin skyline


Austin McKinney Falls State Park

A Cooling Effect A 2006 tree canopy analysis conducted by the city’s Watershed Protection Department revealed that approximately 32 percent of the city is shaded by trees. As explained by Leah Haynie, Austin’s Heat Island program coordinator, trees can reduce summer temperatures through shading, by absorbing solar energy and through evapotranspiration. In addition, it’s estimated that Austin’s trees have the potential to store up to 100,000 tons of CO2 per year,6 which is why departments across Austin are focused on increasing and protecting the city’s urban forest. “Here in Texas, we value our trees immensely for their cooling effects,” says Ray Henning, line clearance superintendent for Austin Energy, one of the largest municipal utility services in the country, serving more than 400,000 customers in the greater Austin area.7 Therefore, when Austin’s city council passed its Urban Heat Island Containment Policy in 2001, a program called NeighborWoods was a key part of its plans. Each year, this program, which began in Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department and is now administered through a contract with the nonprofit TreeFolks, distributes between 3,000 and 4,000 trees to Austin Energy customers for planting near the city streets in the right of way. While technically these trees are on city land, Austinites are responsible for maintaining the trees and vegetation growing there, which means that neighborhood support is a key element of the program.

“Upfront outreach is really helpful to having success for the program,” says April Rose, executive director of TreeFolks. “Getting someone in front of neighborhood groups talking with them about why it’s important to plant street trees and what it can do for energy, ambient air temperature, property values, wildlife, etc., can get the community supportive of the program and excited about the opportunity to receive free street trees.” Beyond NeighborWoods, TreeFolks has a variety of other programs to increase tree canopy, including Sapling Days, which are held each fall. On these select days, approximately 3,000 tree saplings are given away to Austin-area residents for planting on their private property, as much of the available space for expanding the city’s urban forest is available on homeowners’ land.

key point Homeowners’ land comprises much of the available space for expanding the city’s urban forest.

100,000 tons of CO­2 stored each year by Austin’s trees

Energy and Heat Islands


April Rose Executive Director TreeFolks

key point Beyond neighborhood tree planting programs, Austin is also using green roofs and streetscapes to address its heat island concerns.


Urban Forests Case Studies

Victor Ovalle/Austin Parks and Recreation


“The general spirit of volunteerism and the grassroots energy ... is part of the Austin culture. People really want to get involved and support urbantree causes.”

Zilker Botanical Garden

Another way the city expands the tree canopy on private land is through its Austin Community Trees program, a partnership among neighborhoods, Austin’s Planning and Development Review Department, Parks and Recreation Department and Austin Energy. Through this program, the city offers 10 species of large shade and small understory trees for planting on private property in neighborhoods with low tree canopies. This program specifically aims to engage neighborhoods in greening the city.

A year later, in August 2010, the Green Roof Advisory Group submitted a Five-Year Policy Implementation Plan to the City Council9 and requested an extension — which the council granted10 — to initiate the implementation of the green roofs plan. Since then, the group has completed a downtown density bonus proposal, developed green roof performance standards and launched the program on the city’s website. Now, city staff are writing the code for incorporating performance standards into building practices.11

Rose says that one of the most helpful things to urban forest work in the city is “the general spirit of volunteerism and the grassroots energy that is part of the Austin culture. People really want to get involved and support urban-tree causes. We couldn’t do all that we do without the thousands of volunteers that we engage with every year and the support of the business community.”

Beyond planting trees and greening roofs, the city also has a Great Streets program, which is designed to improve the quality of downtown streets and sidewalks. Great Streets works with private developers to create streetscapes that go above and beyond the city’s minimum requirements. To encourage private developers to improve their streetscape plans, the city offers financial assistance to help offset the costs of streetscape work beyond the city’s minimum standards. In addition, when new lane miles are constructed, code requirements identify that one percent of the project’s costs must be dedicated to incorporating and caring for trees.

Sometimes, though, especially in downtown spaces, trees may not be a feasible solution to urban heat island reduction, so in 2009, the Austin City Council passed a resolution to create a green roof stakeholder group to “explore the feasibility of offering energy and stormwater credits and other incentives, based on performance, to encourage the creation of green roofs in the city.”8

focus story

Protecting Trees and Educating the Public All properties (public and private) are subject to the city’s tree preservation ordinance, and Austin’s various ordinances provide protection on all land within the city of Austin zoning jurisdiction. Regulatory recognition starts with all trees on public property, trees six inches DBH within scenic roadways, trees eight inches DBH on commercial properties and trees 19 inches DBH on single-family home sites. Selective species are considered heritage trees once their trunks reach 24 inches DBH. If a healthy heritage tree has a trunk 30 inches DBH, a public meeting is required to determine the fate of the tree. A team of 20 employees in varying offices review proposed development projects (e.g. capital improvement, subdivision, commercial, residential projects) and, once approved, inspect to ensure compliance with the tree ordinances. If noncompliance is identified, work is stopped, and/or citations can be issued.

Grow Green: This interdepartmental program is designed to promote sustainable landscaping practices. Grow Green works with community members to spread multiple messages, including planting native and well-adapted species, protecting and promoting wildlife, fertilizing only when needed, conserving energy and improving air quality. For more information, visit http://www. austintexas.gov/department/grow-green. Oak Wilt Suppression: Since 1988, the city has been addressing the loss of live oaks and red oaks to oak wilt. Working in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the Texas Forest Service and local neighborhood associations, this project educates the public on the issue, locates the disease, provides technical and cost-sharing assistance and monitors treatments for any continued spread.

Urban Forest Grant Program: This program — established to promote conservation and other projects that benefit Austin’s urban forest — has $350,000 in funding to help preserve and grow Austin’s canopy of trees. Projects eligible for funding include tree planting and preservation, education, public service announcements, disease control and management of invasive species. Urban Forest Steward: The city has teamed up with TreeFolks to train citizens in all aspects of tree stewardship to sustain and grow Austin’s tree canopy. Urban Forest Stewards receive 30 hours of training from arboriculture and forestry professionals. During the training, they learn how trees grow, how to care for them and how to organize urban forestry projects to improve the tree canopy in their neighborhood or park. For more information, visit http://treefolks.org/ufs.

Live oaks on the University of Texas campus

Beyond protecting the city’s trees, Austin’s various departments — with the help of private partners — also try to engage city residents in urban forestry through a number of programs designed to provide information and education on the benefits trees provide to the city.

Matthew Rutledge

Austin Tree of the Year: Since 2007, Austin citizens have had the opportunity to nominate trees that they feel are the most valuable to the city. This annual event has been viewed as a virtual beauty pageant for trees. For more information, visit http://treefolks.org/treeoftheyear.

Energy and Heat Islands



Speaking for the Trees

“Many times, the city’s departments have different goals. We’re speaking more with one voice now.” Keith Mars Environmental Program Coordinator City of Austin

key point Austin’s new urban forest plan will address the specific ecologies and land-use needs of its two distinct geographic areas.

Austin’s tree ordinances and activities are driven by Austinites according to Austin City Council Aide Shannon Halley. For more than 30 years, the city’s Urban Forestry Board, a city council-appointed group, has been meeting monthly to study, investigate, plan, advise, report and recommend any action, program, plan or legislation that the board determines advisable. Citizen involvement extends beyond the board, though. In 2006, a neighborhood was concerned about the number of trees being trimmed in their community and asked for the Austin City Council to enact a tree-trimming moratorium to evaluate the issue. The council complied, and that year, a tree task force was formed to look into Austin’s urban canopy practices. This task force proposed a number of broad strategies for improving the city’s urban canopy practices, which included providing the framework for updating Austin’s tree ordinances to include heritage trees. The task force also recommended the formation of an interdepartmental tree group that would meet once a month, a recommendation that would prove beneficial to the city’s urban forest. “Many times, the city’s departments have different goals,” says Keith Mars, an environmental program coordinator for the City of Austin. “We’re speaking more with one voice now. We use these meetings to discuss conflicts and make decisions so the city can minimize any confusion for its citizens regarding tree issues.” Because many municipal operations and social requirements lead to encroachment into areas needed for to sustain trees, a transparent, scientific approach is needed, according to members of the city’s Urban Forestry Program, to address:

• Maximizing soil volumes for trees within rights of way and within proposed development projects;

• Quantifying the value of existing vegetation, as opposed to removing it and planting new vegetation, and receiving incentives for preserving these areas;


Urban Forests Case Studies

• Determining the potential impacts from using non-native nursery stock;

• Minimizing tree impacts from utility conflicts; • Developing a GIS database and statistical

analysis from development plans and tree mortality permits; and,

• Assessing potential population decline of native species, such as post oak and Texas madrone.

By working collaboratively — between departments and with the arborist, development and neighborhood communities — Austin hopes to create a winning formula that maximizes trees and their benefits throughout the city. With approximately 6,000 trees being planted each year through the city’s Heat Island program, the city’s forestry team is eagerly awaiting an updated canopy report and tree inventory that will be available this year to see how much the needle has moved in recent years, especially considering Texas’ recent troubles with drought and Austin’s continued development. While this new report will be a beneficial snapshot of the city’s current canopy, Arborist Embesi reveals that the city is currently developing a plan, the Comprehensive Urban Forest Plan, to address the city’s canopy. This plan would dive deeper than just the number of trees and would focus on plans that take into account Austin’s two distinct geographic areas — one a prairie and one a plateau — with their specific ecologies and land-use needs. This plan will address trees within all of its sections: land use and transportation, housing and neighborhoods, conservation and environment, city facilities and services, and

Paul Lowry

Austin Lady Bird Lake

more. Getting the right tree in the right place is tantamount to increasing the benefits the trees provide while also saving the city money. Austin Energy is very aware of the money that can be saved through constructive planning of the city’s urban forest. When a tree has to be removed because of issues related to the utility line, the energy company gives the homeowner a new tree — free of charge — that is utility compatible, meaning that when the tree is mature, it will still be below the property’s utility lines. Therefore, homeowners can take care of the tree, while Austin Energy focuses its green activities elsewhere. Henning relates how important it is to educate homeowners on the right types of trees to plant in the right location. “If we could get the right tree in the right place and didn’t have to spend money pruning trees away from power lines, we could spend that money for a lot better uses like improving the urban forest,” he says. “We can afford to get the right trees in the right place. We need to look at the long-term solutions.” While the Comprehensive Urban Forest Plan underway is essential to providing some of the long-term solutions, like many cities around the country, Austin also finds itself with limited staff and resources to complete the work required to

maintain and enhance its urban forest. Twenty five Parks and Recreation Department and Planning and Development Review Department Urban Forestry Programs employees are responsible for 300,000 public trees in Austin, plus all of the public programs designed to engage Austin’s citizens in helping care for and protect the city’s greenspaces. It’s a daunting task, but one that Austin is committed to tackling. One of the ways the city hopes to improve the urban canopy in the future is by using greenspaces to increase alternative means of transportation, especially biking and walking paths, according to Ana González, a forester with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Studies have shown that well-vegetated areas encourage people to get outside and enjoy their surroundings. By strategically planting trees to enhance these corridors, fitness opportunities will be up, air pollution from cars will be down and Austinites will be healthier. A win-win-win proposition. And beyond their practical applications, trees also provide another much needed asset to any city: beauty. As City Council Aide Halley relates, a University of Texas-Austin president once asked, “Would you rather your children looked at bricks or branches?”

Special Thanks to: Michael Embesi, city arborist, City of Austin Planning & Development Review Department Ana González, forester, City of Austin Parks & Recreation Department Shannon Halley, policy aide, Austin City Council Leah Haynie, program coordinator, City of Austin Office of Sustainability Ray Henning, line clearance superintendent, Austin Energy Keith Mars, environmental program coordinator, City of Austin Planning & Development Review Department April Rose, executive director, TreeFolks

Energy and Heat Islands




West Virginia Virginia

Baltimore Quick Facts Who Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks Forestry Division Staff 23 staff members, including a city arborist, six urban foresters, volunteer and community outreach staff, office and administrative staff, in-house tree pruning and removal crews; plus five contracted tree maintenance crews Canopy Almost three million trees, including woodland forest trees; approximately 125,000 street trees in developed parklands Key Forestry Tasks Tree maintenance, emergency services, tree planting, permitting Partners Department of Public Works, Department of Planning, Department of Transportation, Department of General Services, U.S. Forest Service, Parks & People Foundation, Blue Water Baltimore, Baltimore Tree Trust, Downtown Partnership, Midtown Partnership, The Baltimore Orchard Project, Southeast Community Development Corporation and other community and greening organizations 52

Neighborhood Improvement Projects Public-Private Partnership KEY TOPICS

Public-Public Partnership Stormwater and Watershed Management Tree Giveaways Urban Forest Management Plan

Baltimore, Maryland, is comprised of

more than 225 distinct and unique neighborhoods.1

In fact, Baltimoreans often call it a “city of

neighborhoods.”2 Over the years, these neighborhoods have experienced their share of racial tension and

strife. But for many environmental advocates, these

neighborhoods also represent a way to bring the city together for a common cause: the city’s urban forest.

Involving Neighborhoods and COmmunities



Baltimore TreeBaltimore planting event

Community Greening Efforts

key point Through its community forestry efforts, Parks & People engages residents in projects involving tree planting, restoration of vacant lots and landscaping, teaching them skills they can use to take on other projects on their own.


Urban Forests Case Studies

In 2011, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake unveiled Baltimore’s Cities of Service Plan, titled “stepUP! Baltimore: Volunteers for Change.” Rawlings-Blake writes in the plan that “in each person and in every corner of our city, from the least to the most likely of places, we are the agents of change. We are the ones who give back, who help, who volunteer. Together, we can make our city better, safer and stronger.” By engaging and creating a dedicated, proactive volunteer network in the city, the plan hopes to address three top concerns in Baltimore: drug addiction, crime and urban blight. And when it comes to urban blight, the plan identifies urban forestry as a solution.3 The stepUP! plan established Power in Dirt, an initiative designed to revitalize vacant lots in some of Baltimore’s most blighted areas. Approximately 14,000 vacant lots exist in the city, and Power in Dirt helps cut through much of the red tape associated with transforming those lots. It identifies lots available for greening, provides legal access to these spaces, ensures no development will occur on the land for at least five years, identifies a clear process for obtaining water for the lot, and supplies resources and information on ways the lots can be transformed.4

opportunities to green communities in Baltimore,” says Jackie Carrera, president and CEO of Parks & People. “We see firsthand, every day, that when neighbors come together around greenspaces, roll up their sleeves and work cooperatively, they’re not only restoring that piece of their natural environment, that small part of the urban forest, they’re also building relationships with one another and improving the social fabric of the city. These connections allow them to be better able to tackle some of the larger issues that they confront in their urban communities.”

One of the program’s partners is the nonprofit Parks & People Foundation. “There are so many

Parks & People was founded by former-Mayor William Donald Schaefer in 1984 to build public-


private partnerships to improve the city’s urban recreation and parks system. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, it evolved into an organization focused on improving the quality of life in Baltimore’s neighborhoods through community forestry and youth programs.5 Through its community forestry efforts, Parks & People engages residents in projects involving tree planting, restoration of vacant lots and landscaping, teaching them skills that they can then use to take on other projects on their own. “All the stuff we do has been about building up the community’s capacity,” says Guy Hager, senior director of the Parks & People Foundation’s Great Parks, Clean Streams & Green Communities program. “It’s about getting the residents in those neighborhoods interested in this approach, and we think that by organizing themselves around something specific that’s doable — tree planting, vacant lot restoration — their capacity building expands to other areas. We see that happen all the time.” Over the last 20 years, the foundation has planted trees in 45 different inner-city neighborhoods.

Baltimore’s urban forest. Inspired by a program in New York City called Trees for Public Health, which is targeting tree planting in six neighborhoods with low tree canopies and high childhood asthma rates, the trust is focused on specific neighborhoods that are most in need of new trees. “Working with neighborhoods is our approach,” says Jill Jonnes, founder of Baltimore Tree Trust, “and people have really embraced it.” One of the neighborhoods the group identified as most in need of greening is McElderry Park. Under the McElderry Park Trees for Public Health Project, Baltimore Tree Trust — along with its partners, including TreeBaltimore, a mayoral tree planting initiative, and Baltimore City Forestry Board, a board of volunteers appointed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service, alongside other community and neighborhood groups — hopes to plant 800 trees across 48 blocks of the neighborhood during the five-year project and is also training the residents to be tree stewards.

“We see firsthand, every day, that when neighbors come together around greenspaces ... they’re not only restoring that piece of their natural environment ... they’re also building relationships with one another and improving the social fabric of the city.” Jackie Carrera President and CEO Parks & People Foundation

A volunteer teaches Project BLUE Civic Justice Corp students how to identify macroinvertebrates.

Newer nonprofit Baltimore Tree Trust, formed in 2009, is also hoping to focus on communities as the key to improving

Parks & People Foundation

Parks & People also works with the Baltimore Public School System to improve public school lots. Since 2006, Parks & People’s Schoolyard Greening initiative has removed approximately 20 acres of asphalt from inner-city schools to create new green space. With the help of the students, the asphalt has been replaced with gardens, trees and other greenery. The nonprofit is also using this approach for public housing locations. “We’re doing the same kind of thing on public housing sites in the city that have struggled to maintain trees and landscape over the last 25 years with youth teams recruited from public housing developments,” Hager says.

Involving Neighborhoods and Communities




Parks & People’s Carrera relates that approaching community associations is often a good way to begin the conversation about getting neighborhoods involved in expanding and taking care of the urban forest. “Community associations as a vehicle to get involved are really important,” she says. Over the years, the foundation has fostered relationships with and among park “friends” groups through its Partnership for Parks program in cooperation with Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks. With Baltimore’s ambitious canopy goals — 40 percent by 2037 — creating and maintaining these cooperative efforts between communities, organizations and the city will be critical to a healthy urban forest. “The agencies in city government right now are really in need of partnerships,” Carrera adds. “Communities need and do in many cases come together to partner with agencies to solve and address some of the agency’s goals and objectives because they’re shared goals and objectives.”

A Baltimore neighborhood

The Benefits of Baltimore’s Urban Forest

key point Creating and maintaining cooperative efforts between communities, organizations and the city will be critical for Baltimore to reach its canopy goals.

The Baltimore metropolitan area has about 2.8 million trees, but about one-fourth of the city’s trees are distressed, dead or dying, according to an analysis by the U.S. Forest Service. To reach its 40 percent tree canopy goal, the city must plant approximately 750,000 trees — about 25,000 to 30,000 each year. Currently, about 7,500 are planted per year.6 Nevertheless, Steve Koehn, Maryland’s state forester, believes the city can reach its ambitious goal. “Forty percent of tree cover has a lot of value, and it’s an achievable goal. It’s a good number to strive for,” he says. “That can be achieved in any number of ways, through parks, street trees, what have you.” TreeBaltimore, a city-led partnership funded in part by corporate donations, is working to achieve this tree planting goal.7 The initiative


Urban Forests Case Studies

was established in 2007 and is spearheaded by the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks Forestry Division. TreeBaltimore plants trees along streets and in parks, maintains existing trees, encourages natural regeneration and fosters a sense of stewardship among residents.8 “The program was started five years ago, and the whole purpose was to increase the tree canopy,” explains Charles Murphy, TreeBaltimore’s operations manager. “Forty percent is a very high


number. When we started, we were only at 27 percent. With a city the size of Baltimore, you’re talking about planting more than a million trees in 30 years with little budget set up to do it. So it’s very ambitious to say the least.” And they’re having to do this with fewer resources than in the past. Baltimore’s urban forestry program suffered a setback in 2010, when budget cuts forced the Forestry Division to eliminate many positions and focus primarily on emergency pruning and removing dead trees.9 Since more than half the land available for tree planting in Baltimore is privately owned, enlisting the help of private landowners, both residential and commercial, is particularly important. To encourage residents to get involved with planting trees in their neighborhoods, every spring and fall TreeBaltimore offers free one-gallon trees for homes and businesses. The city gives away the trees at farmers’ markets, local events and parks.10 The city stands to gain in a number of ways from ratcheting up its tree planting and treecare efforts. According to TreeBaltimore, a single tree provides about $57,000 in economic and environmental benefits over its lifetime. The urban canopy as a whole provides $3.3 million

a year in energy savings by shading buildings from the summer sun and blocking winter winds; $3.8 million a year by removing 700 metric tons of air pollution; $1.6 million a year by removing 244 metric tons of ozone; and $10.7 million a year by storing 527 tons of carbon.11 “The way to mitigate the negative effects of an urban environment is to embed as much green infrastructure in that landscape as you can,” Koehn says. “There is a tremendous amount of environmental services associated with it.” Adds Parks & People’s Carrera, “That economic benefit goes largely unrecognized. This is an infrastructure asset, and we need to recognize the value of urban forests in cities, to understand that just like any other asset that you have, it requires an investment of resources to be sure that you’re not losing value in that asset over time.”

$57,000 the amount of economic and environmental benefits a single Baltimore tree provides over its lifetime

One of the key infrastructure functions an urban forest can serve is to filter and slow down stormwater runoff, and in Baltimore, stormwater can directly affect a larger, region-wide effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

Eugene Hood

Federal Hill neighborhood

Involving Neighborhoods and Communities


James Cridland

Baltimore Baltimore Inner Harbor

Watershed Demonstrations As part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed — one of the most ecologically and economically important watersheds in the country — Baltimore is home to several watershed-focused initiatives. key point Partnerships with the U.S. Forest Service created a national model for community forestry to address concerns like watershed management.

In the early 1990s, Parks & People entered into a long-term partnership with the U.S. Forest Service on a project called Revitalizing Baltimore. The goal of the project was to create a national model for community forestry in assisting with ecological concerns, like watershed management. For 10 years, the project focused on increasing the tree canopy in 45 Baltimore neighborhoods by planting street trees, riparian trees and woody plants.12 As the modeling project came to end, Parks & People transitioned the work and lessons learned into a new watershed initiative. The organization, working closely with the city’s Department of Public Works, has begun a demonstration project called Watershed 263, which focuses on one watershed in the city “to


Urban Forests Case Studies

demonstrate measurable improvement in water quality and quality of life and hopefully to do it in a cost-effective manner such that can be replicated across the city and maybe other places,” Hager says. Started in late 2004, Watershed 263 encompasses 12 west and southwest Baltimore neighborhoods across a 930-acre storm drain area. The plan for the project involves tree planting, vacant lot restoration, community gardens, schoolyard asphalt removals and more to reduce runoff into the Patapsco River.13 By focusing on a watershed boundary with the 263 project, Parks & People is able to expand its community forestry work beyond just one neighborhood. “We like watersheds because they’re nested,” Hager says. “We like them because


they can bring neighborhoods together and break up existing boundaries. Part of the problem in Baltimore has always been one neighborhood against another neighborhood. Through these watershed programs, we can get neighborhoods to work together on a common goal.” Also focused on watershed issues is the newly formed nonprofit Blue Water Baltimore. Blue Water has only been around since 2011, but its roots go back much further — it’s the result of a merger between five different Baltimorebased water associations. The idea of merging Baltimore’s various watershed nonprofits was floating around for many years before active negotiations began in 2009 to create one voice to represent Baltimore’s watersheds during funding discussions and collaborative ecosystem projects.14 With the merge now complete, Blue Water Baltimore’s mission is to use “community-based restoration, education and advocacy to achieve clean water in Baltimore’s rivers, streams and harbor, so that citizens of the Baltimore region will enjoy a vibrant natural environment, livable neighborhoods and a healthy, thriving Inner Harbor and Chesapeake Bay.”15 To achieve that goal, the group mobilizes volunteers to patrol streams for pollution, organize trash cleanups and help property owners who want to reduce polluted runoff from their properties. It’s partnering with groups like TreeBaltimore and Parks & People on urban forestry projects that affect watersheds, such as vacant lot conversions and school-yard greening. And, like so many other urban forest groups in Baltimore, Blue Water is focused on connecting with individual residents and neighborhoods. Its Water Audit and Community Greening programs help homeowners and communities set up rain barrels, plant trees, create rain gardens and reduce impervious surfaces. As Baltimore’s many urban forest advocates continue to develop programs, projects and networks to protect and enhance the city’s green

assets, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is funding research aimed at helping their efforts. The Baltimore Ecosystem Study, part of NSF’s Longterm Ecological Research Network, is studying how the city’s ecosystems change over time, ultimately providing data on its watersheds, biodiversity, soil, social ecology, urban and community planning and more.16 Under the program, spearheaded by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, and supported by a long list of city, state and federal agencies, universities and organizations, researchers selected 200 plots around the city to monitor over time. The researchers first surveyed the plots in 2004, measuring the height and density of the trees and recording the species. Another survey is scheduled for 2014, which should provide needed insight into the effectiveness of some of the efforts underway in Baltimore. The study will help urban foresters understand how various stressors, such as pollution and root-cramping pavement, affect tree growth and which species are more resilient, among other things.17 Through this new research, ongoing demonstration projects, community outreach and cooperative efforts, and watershed activities, Baltimore is hoping to continue to move closer to its 40 percent canopy goal, which in turn will help the city move closer to its goals concerning urban blight and even reducing crime. A 2010 study published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning revealed that just a 10 percent increase in tree canopy in Baltimore correlated with a 12 percent decrease in crime.18 “Where there are more green spaces, more trees, there is a decrease in the level of tension and the level of violence that’s exhibited,” Parks & People’s Carrera says. “So from a social perspective, trees and greenspace are important to keep civility alive in cities.”

“Part of the problem in Baltimore has always been one neighborhood against another neighborhood. Through these watershed programs, we can get neighborhoods to work together on a common goal.” Guy Hager Senior Director Parks & People Foundation

Special Thanks to: Erik M. Dihle, city arborist and chief of urban forestry, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks Steve Koehn, Maryland state forester Jackie Carrera, president and CEO, Parks & People Foundation Eric Greenfield, forester, U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station Guy Hager, senior director, Parks & People Foundation Great Parks, Clean Streams & Green Communities Jill Jonnes, founder, Baltimore Tree Trust Charles Murphy, operations manager, TreeBaltimore David Nowak, research forester, U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station

Involving Neighborhoods and Communities









New Mexico


Quick Facts Who Denver Parks and Recreation Staff 26 full-time staff members, including a city forester, an education and outreach program manager and program coordinator, arboreal inspectors, administrative assistants, an operations superintendent, operation supervisors, tree trimmers and equipment operators Canopy Estimated 90,000 trees in parks and on public grounds under Denver Parks and Recreation’s direct control; estimated 350,000 trees in rights of way under city control with adjacent property owners responsible for maintenance Key Forestry Tasks Tree maintenance in parks and on public grounds; monitoring and enforcing work on trees in rights of way; monitoring and enforcing removals for safety and sanitation; permitting removal and planting of trees in rights of way; permitting removal of trees in front of setbacks of private properties during demolitions of properties; enforcement of Chapter 57 (dead, dangerous, infected trees, licensing, etc.) of the city code Partners Almost all city departments and agencies, such as Public Works, Environmental Health, Development Services, Mayor’s Office, Denver Public Schools, Facility Maintenance, Arts and Venues, Denver Housing, Denver Zoo, Denver Botanic Gardens; The Park People; Colorado State Forest Service; Colorado State University/Extension; U.S. Forest Service; and International Society of Arboriculture 60

Citywide Greening Initiative Neighborhood Improvement Projects KEY TOPICS

Public-Private Partnership Public-Public Partnership Tree Giveaways Tree-care Training Program Urban Forest Management Plan

It’s known as the Mile High City for a good

reason — the spot that is exactly one mile (5,280 feet) above sea level is marked by a round brass cap in the western stairs of the State Capitol.1 What isn’t so widely known is that despite its proximity to the Rocky Mountains, Denver is actually very arid with less than 15 inches of precipitation per year and more than 300 days of sunshine.2 As a result, Colorado’s capital is not the most hospitable place for an urban forest, so having 15,000 acres of urban parks and mountain parkland is pretty impressive.3 “You can see what people have built over the last 100 years in the heart of Denver and the way they changed what is really a harsh climate. They created this green oasis of trees,” says Rob Davis, Denver’s city forester. But as one can imagine, maintaining an artificial creation requires time, foresight, funds and dedication.

Involving Neighborhoods and COmmunities



Park Planning At the turn of the century, the Denver City Council adopted the Denver Comprehensive Plan 2000, which is a planning and development guide for all city departments and agencies that establishes a vision for Denver as a “city that is livable for its people, now and in the future.”4 A key recommendation of this plan was for Denver Parks and Recreation to develop a master plan for the management of its properties.

key point Denver’s Game Plan is a 50-year vision for the city’s parks alongside short and long-term policy, management and community actions to implement the vision.

In order to develop this plan, Denver Parks and Recreation spent 16 months engaging the public on ideas through public forums, surveys and focus groups. All of this feedback was used to help influence the Denver Parks and Recreation Game Plan, which was released in 2003. The Game Plan unveils a 50-year vision for Denver’s parks alongside short- and long-term policy, management and community actions to implement the vision. The Game Plan revolves around 10 goals:

• More parks and recreation for all, citywide; • Greener neighborhoods with lots of new shade trees …

• … while using less water … • … and conserving other natural resources; • Improved access to parkland;

• Predict and prepare for recreation activities of the future;

• Bring a “taste of nature” close to home; • Protect Denver’s historic parks, parkways and structures;

• Revitalize the mountain parks; and • Change the way Denver Parks and Recreation works, focusing on sound economics and creative partnerships.5

A layer deeper into the plan are the performance goals, which define how exactly these broader goals will be accomplished. For instance, the Game Plan outlines that at least one-half acre of public open space must be within one-half mile of every resident’s home. And, there’s the canopy goal of 15–18 percent for residential areas and 10 percent for commercial areas — numbers that are reflective of Denver’s challenging climate.6


Urban Forests Case Studies

Greg Ness

Denver’s City Park


“Our ultimate goal is to preserve and enhance the legacy of Denver’s urban forest,” says Rob Davis. “Then, there’s the long-term goal of trying to raise our canopy cover for all of the environmental benefits doing so would provide.” Three years after these performance goals and measures were laid out in the Game Plan, the department’s canopy goal would gain new attention and scrutiny. During then-Mayor John Hickenlooper’s 2006 State of the City address, he announced a goal of planting one million new trees in the city by 2025 as part of his larger Greenprint Denver initiative, which addresses sustainability issues like greenhouse gas emissions, waste, renewable energy, greenbuilding practices and more.7 This announcement gave birth to The Mile High Million regional tree planting initiative.

The initiative — led by the city and county of Denver, Parks and Recreation, Greenprint Denver and Suncor Energy — is designed to engage residents, communities, neighborhood organizations, schools, nonprofits and business in supporting tree planting efforts in order to increase the city’s tree canopy and tree count. “Trees provide a long-term benefit,” says Sara Davis, The Mile High Million program manager. “We don’t get the return on investment immediately. The work we’re doing to meet those goals is going to take a while.”

canopy goal for Denver’s residential neighborhoods

Helping the city with these goals is its long-time, nonprofit partner The Park People.

Supporting Denver’s Parks and Trees “We were founded [in 1969] by a bunch of park enthusiasts who saw that the Denver Parks and Recreation Department didn’t have enough funding to really support the park system,” says Kim Yuan-Farrell, program manager for The Park People. “These citizens started raising private funds for park-enhancement projects. A big part of our work is through capital projects, where we raise private funds and infuse them into the park system.” These projects range from restoration of historic sites, like the Washington Park Boathouse, to park pavilions, field houses and other recreation facilities, such as the group’s $4.7 million renovation — a collaboration with the Gates Family Foundation and the city and county of Denver — of the city’s Gates Tennis Center.8 The Park People’s work extends beyond capitalimprovement projects, though, as the organization has a series of programs designed to enhance the city’s urban forest.


The most well-known Park People program in the city is Denver Digs Trees. This program began more than 20 years ago out of the garages of some environmentally conscious citizens. “The founders of Denver Digs Trees were tree lovers, but they were also community organizers who really saw trees as a tool or resource for improving neighborhoods in the endless ways that trees provide benefits to a community,” says Yuan-Farrell.

“Trees provide a long-term benefit. We don’t get the return on investment immediately. The work we’re doing to meet those goals is going to take a while.” Sara Davis Program Manager City of Denver Parks and Recreation Forestry Division

Involving Neighborhoods and Communities


Provided by The Park People, Denver, Colorado

Denver Denver City Forester Rob Davis teaches Community Forester volunteers about pruning cuts.

“Lower-income areas have more barriers to obtaining trees, so we try to lower those barriers to bridge the canopy equity gap.” Kim Yuan-Farrell Program Manager The Park People


Urban Forests Case Studies

After a few years of independent, grassroots operation, Denver Digs Trees was adopted by The Park People, which took over coordination and fundraising efforts for the program. At its core, Denver Digs Trees is a citywide, free and affordable tree distribution. Every spring, residents can sign up to plant a tree in the rights of way in front of their houses, and then in the fall, residents can sign up for a shade tree to be planted in their yards. Depending on the neighborhood where the trees are being planted, the trees are either free or $25 for residents, with The Park People providing planting assistance and the residents committing to long-term care and maintenance for the trees. Yuan-Farrell explains that when the program started, funding allowed all tree distributions to be free, but over the years, as funding sources shifted, the organization developed a list of lowerincome target neighborhoods for tree plantings. “These lower-income areas have more barriers to obtaining trees, so we try to lower those barriers to bridge the canopy equity gap,” she says. The

program employs volunteers to do door-to-door canvassing in target neighborhoods, while also engaging with neighborhood associations, to encourage participation. In 2011, for the first time, a neighborhood was removed from the list because the potential planting sites had been largely saturated through the efforts of residents and Denver Digs Trees. Currently, residents of 23 neighborhoods in Denver are eligible for free trees through the program. Beyond targeting low-income neighborhoods, The Park People also partners with the business community to support the urban tree canopy. A few years ago, the nonprofit instituted its Mile High Tree Champions program. This program encourages Denver businesses and employers to host planting days, where The Park People provides the trees, tools and other resources, while the business sponsors and provides the labor for the planting projects. Many of these planting projects take place on parklands and natural areas and at affordable housing sites.


The partnership that The Park People has developed with Denver Parks and Recreation is a key to the success of its many programs. “For all of our urban forestry programs, Denver Parks and Recreation’s Forestry Division is essential for us to do what we do,” Yuan-Farrell says. Besides collaborating on planting programs like Denver Digs Trees, Denver Parks and Recreation and The Park People partner on the nonprofit’s Community Forester program. “The Community Forester program was founded in 2003 to engage residents as high-level volunteers to support our work and the work of the Denver Forestry Division in planting and maintaining the urban forest,” says Yuan-Farrell.

The program is comprised of four-workshop training courses, designed to educate participants on everything from “Trees 101” to tree pruning, identification and planting. All the courses but Trees 101 and Volunteer Leadership & Management include a field component to the session. The Park People handles the logistics of the program, while the city of Denver’s Forestry Division helps with the training itself. Once someone completes the Community Forester program, he or she is qualified to lead tree planting efforts, as well as other neighborhood-greening projects.9 About 40–80 people per year participate in the Community Forester program. These welltrained volunteers are a nice supplement to the Forestry Division’s full-time crews.

key point Denver’s Community Forester program trains volunteers in tree planting and tree care, qualifying its graduates to lead planting and other neighborhoodgreening projects.

Jeffrey Beall

Civic Center Park

Involving Neighborhoods and Communities


Wally Gobetz

Denver 66

Urban Forests Case Studies

The Pepsi Center is home to the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche.


Protecting Denver’s Urban Forest The Forestry Division in Denver Parks and Recreation is comprised of three primary work units: operations, which is responsible for the care and maintenance of the trees within the parks system; inspections, which is responsible for monitoring right-of-way trees for public safety concerns and notifying homeowners when the trees are in violation, since the city’s tree ordinance assigns responsibility for right-of-way trees to the adjacent homeowner; and education and outreach, which conducts research, promotes the benefits of the urban forest and engages with the community. Unlike operations and inspections, which are funded through the city budget, the Forestry Division’s education and outreach work is mostly grant and fundraising supported. “Education and outreach often functions like a nonprofit even though it’s housed in the city system,” says Sara Davis of The Mile High Million, which is part of education and outreach. Adds Rob Davis, “We’ve had some big opportunities with large amounts of money that carried over for a period of time. We’re coming up to some interesting times now, where it’s a question of if we can make that happen again. We’re hopeful that people continue to recognize what trees can do.” As the main organizing entity behind The Mile High Million, the Forestry Division has pursued many unique partnerships over the years. For instance, in 2009 and 2010, the program partnered with the city’s professional basketball team, the Denver Nuggets, and sponsor Swingle Lawn, Tree and Landscape Care to plant a tree for every threepoint shot converted at each Denver Nuggets’ home game that season.10 A similar relationship has formed with the Colorado Rockies. Connecting with the city’s sports teams is a desirable outlet for Rob Davis: “It lets us interact with large pieces of our community to connect them with why our urban forest is important. Denver has a large outdoor-oriented group of people, so our urban forest message fits well.” Beyond the core functions of operations, inspections and education and outreach, the Forestry Division also works closely with many other city departments on urban forestry concerns. Two of the main departments are the Department of Public Works and the Community Planning and Development Department.

“Public Works is established as the ultimate authority over the rights of way in the city,” says city forester Rob Davis. “When Public Works is doing road projects, sidewalk projects or curb and gutter work, we try to work with them to view the trees as part of the street infrastructure.” Forestry has a similar relationship with Community Planning and Development. One of the Forestry Division’s inspectors reviews proposals from the Community Planning and Development Department for work that might affect public trees. “There are fees we charge for our reviews. There are mitigation penalties if developers remove trees,” says Rob Davis. “There is a lot of interaction with developers to try to convince them to put in the money to include trees and landscaping in the right of way if it can improve the long-term enjoyment of that shopping or business area.” “We’re poised to be successful in our urban forestry work,” says Sara Davis. “We have the historic trees in place. We’re starting to build the tree culture of citizens really valuing their trees and having the Community Forester program. We’re starting to quantify the environmental services for the decision makers, and we’re starting to get elected officials who are thinking in different ways.” All of these things point to a city with the foundation in place to maintain and expand its urban forest long into the 21st century.

“We’re poised to be successful in our urban forestry work. We have the historic trees in place. We’re starting to build the tree culture of citizens really valuing their trees and having the Community Forester program.” Sara Davis Program Manager City of Denver Parks and Recreation Forestry Division

Special Thanks to: Sara Davis, program manager, The Mile High Million and City of Denver Parks and Recreation Forestry Division Education and Outreach Rob Davis, city forester, City of Denver Parks and Recreation Forestry Division Kim Yuan-Farrell, program manager, The Park People

Involving Neighborhoods and Communities


Wisconsin Michigan


Illinois Indiana

Indianapolis Quick Facts Who City of Indianapolis Department of Public Works Urban Forestry Section Staff Seven full-time staff members, including certified arborists in management, a forestry supervisor and forestry crew members, including two certified arborists; plus, an additional certified arborist in the Department of Code Enforcement and contractors for additional maintenance work Canopy Unknown, most likely in excess of 300,000 park and street trees KEY FORESTRY TASKS Emergency response, maintenance of all trees in parks and rights of way, project review, writing policy and procedures Partners Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Indianapolis Downtown Incorporated, Indianapolis Power and Light, Purdue University 68

Citywide Greening Initiative Invasive Pest Management KEY TOPICS

Neighborhood Improvement Projects Public-Private Partnership Public-Public Partnership Stormwater and Watershed Management

Indiana is not necessarily known for its

forests and trees, but a 2008 assessment of the state’s street trees revealed that they provide approximately $79 million annually in environmental and economic benefits.1 It’s not too surprising that the biggest city in the state and 13th biggest city in the country accounts for almost 10 percent of these benefits at $6.6 million. Like many cities, Indianapolis has had to work hard over the years to achieve this level of benefit, and more work — and funding — is needed in the years to come to keep the city’s urban forest working for the Hoosiers who live in the capital.

Involving Neighborhoods and COmmunities



Increasing Sustainability key point Embedding the Urban Forestry team with engineering helps to improve how trees are managed during construction projects.

Indianapolis Mayor Gregory A. Ballard took office in January 2008 and by October had created the new Office of Sustainability in the Department of Public Works as part of his goal “to make Indianapolis the most sustainable city in the Midwest.”2 One of the office’s main functions is to ensure the success of the mayor’s SustainIndy initiative. SustainIndy focuses on ways the city can improve its water and land; find ways to reduce, reuse and recycle; reduce energy consumption and emissions; and enhance the city’s quality of life. In order to accomplish these goals, the city is looking at how to change its policies and ordinances, incorporate green infrastructure into its development, expand recycling programs and incentivize green building practices.3 Many of its programs are focused on incorporating greening opportunities into new development projects, which led to the creation of the Green Checklist in 2011, now a required document for all developers to include in their submissions to the city.4

Irvington tree planting

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful

This emphasis on green elements in building projects has led to a close relationship between various departments in the city and the Urban Forestry Section of the Department of Public Works. “We have construction and project managers in our offices every day,” says Andrew Mertz, the former urban forestry manager. “We try to make sure that the urban canopy, landscaping and green infrastructure issues are taken care of up front for every project,” which wasn’t always the case just a few years ago.


Urban Forests Case Studies

In 2009, Urban Forestry moved from its longtime home in Indy Parks and Recreation to the Department of Public Works, embedding the urban forestry management team within the engineering section of the department, which has meant that urban forestry has had greater access to recommend and implement changes to how trees are managed during construction projects.

“Trees have not always been a priority when designing and constructing capital improvement projects in rights of way in Indianapolis,” says Mertz. “Neither has the long-term maintenance of newly installed trees or landscaping. Our new proposed standard operating procedure (SOP) gives designers and construction managers a set of steps to follow for every project so trees and landscaping are accounted for before, during and after construction.” As part of the proposed SOP, before any capital improvement project can proceed, the Urban Forestry Section makes sure the trees within the footprint of the project are inventoried, a workplan is generated, all tree maintenance is done and all necessary tree protection is put in place. Then, the project moves forward as planned. Finally, when the project is completed, tree replacement is completed as needed, and a maintenance component phase begins. “This model allows us to address tree inventory, routine tree maintenance and tree planting needs in neighborhoods project by project,” relates Mertz. While this procedure is not a requirement for all projects yet, it is something that the Urban Forestry Section strives to incorporate in every capital improvement project that comes out of city engineering. “What we’ve been able to show is that we’re adding a very small percentage to the cost of each one of these infrastructure projects and getting a much better product in the end,” says Mertz. “But we’re still having to sell it, and we sell it every day.”

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful


Volunteers painting a mural during a Great Indy Cleanup event

Partners, Partners, Partners Beyond working daily with the planners and developers on the SustainIndy and RebuildIndy teams, Urban Forestry interacts daily with the Department of Code Enforcement (DCE) and Indy Parks and Recreation. DCE is responsible for enforcing the tree and flora ordinance.5 DCE also issues all permits relating to tree and flora work, meaning all landscape work has to be approved through that office, and any violations of the ordinance can be taken to court by DCE’s lawyers. Indy Parks and Recreation is responsible for 207 park properties and 59 miles of greenway trails, which amount to more than 11,000 acres.6 Urban Forestry works with Indy Parks and Recreation’s Land Stewardship group, which is responsible for natural land area restoration work. With all of this talk of ordinances, permits and green infrastructure, one may begin to wonder about tree plantings in Indianapolis. Those are happening, too, with the help of another partner, the nonprofit Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. (KIB), which manages all of Urban Forestry’s tree planting projects. KIB, an affiliate of the national Keep America Beautiful, Inc. organization, first began its work in

Indianapolis in 1976 as Indianapolis Clean City, but changed its name in 1997 “to better reflect its efforts in the community.”7 KIB oversees a number of programs designed to enhance the livability of the capital city, including its anti-litter Great Indy Cleanup program and its Project GreenSpace program. About seven years ago, the organization beefed up its community tree program by giving birth to NeighborWoods, which helps plant trees on both private and public land. KIB is a

“What we’ve been able to show is that we’re adding a very small percentage to the cost of each one of these infrastructure projects [by adding trees] and getting a much better product in the end.” Andrew Mertz Former Urban Forestry Manager City of Indianapolis

Involving Neighborhoods and Communities


Heidi Veronica

Indianapolis University Park tree planting

member of the Alliance for Community Trees, which also has a NeighborWoods program and agreed to let KIB use the NeighborWoods name for its tree planting initiative.

“We’ll plant in your front yard, your backyard, anywhere there’s a plantable space, as long as we have someone to care for the trees.” Andrew Hart Program Director NeighborWoods

“One of the goals of NeighborWoods is to create a more positive tree culture in the city,” says the program’s director, Andrew Hart, and it does this by focusing on areas of the city that need trees the most. When KIB was developing its NeighborWoods program, it brought together a diverse group of advisors — from public health officials to experts from local universities and the state urban forester — to develop criteria to determine the

neighborhoods with the greatest need for an increased tree canopy. Ultimately, nine variables were examined across neighborhoods in the city, including tree canopy, impervious surface, proximity to industrial plant locations, traffic, rate of childhood asthma, crime rate and income. Using these criteria, KIB determined six “hotspot” neighborhoods that would be key locales for NeighborWoods activities.8 While anyone in the city can apply for a NeighborWoods planting, KIB’s efforts focus specifically on outreach to the hotspots — going to community meetings, street fairs and block parties to engage the residents in planting trees with KIB. For NeighborWoods plantings, KIB brings the trees and the expertise, while residents are responsible for helping with the planting efforts and then the care and maintenance efforts afterwards. For non-hotspot plantings, Hart relates that they try to plant the new trees in the public right of way. In hotspots, though, the goal is to simply get trees in the ground. “We’ll plant in your front yard, your backyard, anywhere there’s a plantable space, as long as we have someone to care for the trees,” says Hart. Last year, 6,000 trees were planted through NeighborWoods — up from the 600 the program planted in its first year.

Engaging Diverse Communities Planting in hotspot neighborhoods, though, isn’t NeighborWoods’ only tree planting success story. The organization’s Pocket Parks program has been operating since 1995 in partnership with Indianapolis Power & Light Company and the city to turn vacant lots, old parking lots, medians or little-used areas into beautiful oases. These are spaces of no more than a quarter of an acre that are usually surrounded by commercial buildings or houses on small lots. By engaging with neighborhoods, schools, churches and other


Urban Forests Case Studies

community-based organizations, KIB’s Pocket Parks are ways to bring greenspaces to areas that don’t have the luxury of multi-acre parks.9 Another major tree planting and restoration program that NeighborWoods administers is its Day of Service program, where local businesses and corporations volunteer to plant trees. These plantings focus on enhancing public spaces


throughout the city, from parkland and rights of way to planting along highway corridors. Some of these have seen great success. For example, major corporate partner Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly) conducted a service day two years ago that required the major highway I-70 to be shut down for a few miles in order to conduct planting efforts in interchanges. Lilly has been participating in a NeighborWoods Day of Service for a number of years — except instead of 150 individuals showing up to participate like some teams, their Day of Service involves around 8,000 volunteers. Hart relates that last year alone, approximately 3,000 trees were planted at 22 different locations on the Lilly Day of Service. Unlike neighborhood plantings, which require a commitment by the residents to care for the trees after they’re in the ground, these Day of Service trees don’t necessarily have built-in caretakers, so KIB employs its Youth Team to fill the gap. The Youth Team program, which began five years ago, pays local high school students to water public trees for nine weeks each summer, and sometimes they mulch, prune, stake or plant trees, too. The Youth Team program is supported

through general corporate, foundation and other donations, but also through the corporations and businesses that participate in a NeighborWoods Day of Service. How does the Youth Team know which trees to water? Technology is to thank for that. Several years ago, KIB implemented a new GPS tracking system for the tree planting team. Before every NeighborWoods tree leaves its nursery, KIB catalogues it by species, nursery and type of container. Then, when planted, each tree is assigned a GPS way point — a datapoint that measures the precise location of the tree — so that a detailed map of tree locations can be generated and used for more effective and efficient maintenance needs. KIB can also use this information with software like the U.S. Forest Service’s i-Tree to calculate the environmental benefits of all NeighborWoods trees. This GPS tracking system is an important tool for the organization, says Hart. “It lends credibility and accountability to our program.”

A GPS tracking system helps keep track of tree locations, types and maintenance needs.

Lilly Global Day of Service

City of Indianapolis

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful volunteers

key point

Involving Neighborhoods and Communities



Threats to the Forest

key point Community neighborhoods are taking action to save as many ash trees as they can from EAB.

While KIB focuses on protecting its young trees from threats like this year’s drought, another threat is stalking Indianapolis’ urban forest: emerald ash borer (EAB). This tiny, invasive insect has killed tens of millions of ash trees across the Midwest, Northeast and southeast Canada since it was first identified 10 years ago in Detroit10 — and it has already been spotted in Indianapolis. As a result, many communities are organizing to protect their neighborhoods and homes from the threat through proactive efforts with the help of Neighbors Against Bad Bugs (NABB). “The Neighbors Against Bad Bugs program grew out of the need to get communities moving and thinking about emerald ash borer before it actually arrives and starts causing damage to trees,” says Annemarie Nagle, forest pest outreach coordinator at Purdue University.

“The Neighbors Against Bad Bugs program grew out of the need to get communities moving and thinking about emerald ash borer before it actually arrives and starts causing damage to trees.”

EAB, though, isn’t the only issue that could use citizen involvement.

A neighborhood known as King Park implemented the NABB plan through the formation of its Ash Borer Action Team (ABATe) in fall 2011.

Emerald ash borer


Annemarie Nagle Forest Pest Outreach Coordinator Purdue University

NABB is a turn-key extension program born out of Purdue University that offers guidance to community leaders on how to take proactive steps in protecting their neighborhoods. By pairing Purdue Master Gardeners, neighborhood associations, county extension educators and concerned citizens, the program aims to save as many ash trees as possible, while also keeping neighborhoods safe and beautiful for residents.11

“I think the work that the ABATe group has done is a really good success story,” says Nagle. ABATe gathered a dozen volunteers to survey all of the neighborhood’s ash trees in the rights of way. Beyond taking note of the ash trees, they also noted available planting space in case some of the ashes needed to be removed. Once this inventory was completed, ABATe used a combination of treatment, removal and new plantings to help preserve the character of its cherished King Park neighborhood. ABATe engaged both the city’s Urban Forestry team and KIB to help with the removals and new plantings.12 “For every dollar that we’ve put into that neighborhood, we’re getting $1.25 back,” says Mertz. “We’re removing the trees, and they’re removing the stumps and funding any treatments or replacement trees needed.”


Urban Forests Case Studies


Looking to the Future In 2010, an idea emerged in Indianapolis to enhance the livability of the city by focusing on the city’s waterways — educating the community about their importance and conducting work to improve their function and aesthetic qualities. This idea — born during the 2010 Livability Challenge — resulted in the formation of Reconnecting to Our Waterways, a coalition of private and public organizations, civic leaders and residents. The idea behind Reconnecting to Our Waterways is to create a collective impact model of engaged citizens and partners to work together to enhance waterways throughout the city. KIB and Lilly are both members, while a member of the Office of Sustainability serves as a liaison.13 “We’ve identified riparian corridors as essential for environmental health and for interception of stormwater,” says KIB’s Hart. “These have become a high priority for us. We’ll take large groups of volunteers along our riparian corridors to do invasive removal and plant hundreds of trees.”

Turning a focus to stormwater makes sense for an urban forestry program that is finding itself more and more in sync with the green infrastructure plans in the city. As the integration between Urban Forestry, SustainIndy, RebuildIndy, KIB, corporate partners, neighborhoods and residents continues, Indianapolis’ urban forest will grow stronger. It needs just needs continual help from the city and its residents to reach its potential.

Andrew Hart, NeighborWoods director, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. Andrew Mertz, former Urban Forestry manager, City of Indianapolis Department of Public Works Annemarie Nagle, forest pest outreach coordinator, Purdue University Department of Entomology Dr. Cliff Sadof, professor, Purdue University Department of Entomology

Eagle Creek Park

Paula Henry

This focus on water issues — and stormwater in particular — is also of high concern for Urban Forestry. It’s estimated that Indianapolis’ street trees alone offer $2 million in stormwater benefits for the city.14 With a public trust having recently bought Indianpolis’ water operations from the

city, Mertz mentions that “it’s in the public trust’s interest to make sure we have adequate tree canopy.”

Special Thanks to:

Involving Neighborhoods and Communities


Tennessee South Carolina Alabama


Atlanta Quick Facts Who City of Atlanta Department of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs Office of Parks Staff 20 forestry operations staff in the Arborist Division and Forestry Division, including arborists, a forestry supervisor, forestry crew supervisors, tree trimmers and a general trades worker

London looks

Key Forestry Tasks Maintenance, removal, emergency services, permitting, code enforcement, reforestation, contractor audits, outreach and education, and public relations related to urban forestry Partners Department of Planning and Community Development, Department of Watershed Management, Department of Public Works, Georgia Power, Tree Conservation Commission, Trees Atlanta and private contractors 76

Long-term Maintenance Plan KEY TOPICS

Neighborhood Improvement Projects Public-Private Partnership Public-Public Partnership

During the 2000s, the Atlanta metropolitan

area expanded rapidly, welcoming 100,000 new residents per year which boosted the population to more than five million.1 While the resulting housing boom was good for the city’s economy, it took a toll on the Georgia capital’s urban forest. Atlanta has lost more than 60 percent of its tree canopy since the 1970s,2 and much of that loss is due to development. If it’s not development threatening the city’s urban forest, it’s the weather, which is why Atlanta has implemented a number of systems and protections for its urban forest.

Involving Neighborhoods and COmmunities



Fighting Threats In 1977, city officials crafted an ordinance requiring developers to either replace the trees they remove or pay into a compensation fund, which is used by the city to support

tree planting efforts. This ordinance was amended in 1995, 2001 and 2002 to reflect the

key point Atlanta’s progressive tree ordinance has been effective in stemming the net loss of the city’s tree canopy.

faster pace of development over the last two decades and to broaden the protection of the city’s trees.3 The current iteration of the ordinance requires that anyone wanting to remove, destroy or injure any tree on city-owned property or any tree greater than six inches in diameter on private property, including diseased or dead ones, must apply for a permit from the city arborist. Anyone who injures or removes a tree without a permit can be fined.4 The ordinance does allow for the removal of trees for construction projects, such as new homes, new

Midtown Atlanta

buildings, streets and infrastructure, but those plans must be submitted to the Department of Planning and Community Development’s Arborist Division, which handles private trees, or the Department of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs, which administers public trees, for review. The tree ordinance requires that developers receive a permit and must minimize the impact on the trees on the site. When a developer does remove a tree, the company must plant a replacement tree elsewhere, pay compensation or both. Compensation fees are paid into a Tree Trust Fund, which is used for planting and maintaining trees in the city.5 The ordinance has been remarkably effective in stemming the net loss of the city’s tree canopy, says Doug Voss, the city of Atlanta’s director of Parks. “Our tree ordinance is very progressive,” he says. “Atlanta is constantly growing and expanding, so we lose quite a few trees. However, the city of Atlanta’s tree protection ordinance requires that any trees removed from public lands be replaced on a caliper to caliper basis. For trees removed from private lands, the ordinance requires the developer to either replace the caliper inches lost or pay into a recompense fund to plant additional trees within the city.”


Urban Forests Case Studies


The tree protection ordinance also spawned the Tree Conservation Commission, a citizen board whose mission is to assist in the protection,


maintenance and regeneration of trees and other forest resources in Atlanta. The Commission, comprised of 15 participants, eight of which are appointed by the mayor and seven by the City Council, hears and decides appeals of permit decisions. Each member is required to have specialized knowledge of trees, the tree protection ordinance or the impact of construction activities on trees. The commission also oversees educational and other programs to encourage proper management of trees.6 With the ordinance helping protect Atlanta’s canopy from development, the city’s urban forest advocates are looking for ways to keep the canopy healthy in the midst of a multi-year drought. “The drought is a very big problem for our trees,” says Greg Levine, co-executive director and chief program officer of the nonprofit Trees Atlanta. “It’s really challenging when you’re planting a lot of new trees and many are showing signs of weakness. The goal is to have them do more than just survive. We want our trees to thrive, so we have to follow up with a lot of care.” To help the city’s trees survive the drought, Trees Atlanta has

Piedmont Park

hired crews to water the trees they’ve planted. “It’s definitely a financial burden,” he says. “But we’re finding that with rainstorms breaking up before they get to the city, and with the heat island [effect], trees just don’t get enough water.” Compounding this issue is that no one knows for sure how much of the city is forested. Unlike several other cities, Atlanta has not calculated what percentage of the city its tree canopy covers. The city recently conducted the first comprehensive inventory of downtown Atlanta’s publicly owned trees. The analysis, which includes trees along streets, boulevards, parks and public spaces in a four-square-mile area, will provide information about the species, size, quality and condition of public trees in downtown Atlanta. The inventory will result in a report on the overall condition of the trees and recommendations on locations that have enough space for future tree planting.7 Voss relates how important this research is in helping identify the location of the city’s trees. “Atlanta has a pretty vibrant tree canopy, but we don’t know yet how much is on public land and how much is on private,” he says.


members of the Tree Conservation Commission, an appointed citizen board that hears and decides appeals of permit decisions

“The drought is a very big problem for our trees. It’s really challenging when you’re planting a lot of new trees and many are showing signs of weakness … so we have to follow up with a lot of care.”

Mike Schinkel

Greg Levine Co-executive Director Trees Atlanta

Involving Neighborhoods and Communities



Growing the Urban Forest Community

key point Atlanta’s Neighborhood Arboreta encourage community involvement in the urban forest and feature rare native trees.

Piedmont Park

Working with the city in helping increase and maintain Atlanta’s urban forest is Trees Atlanta. Founded in 1985 by Central Atlanta Progress, the Junior League of Atlanta, Inc. and the Atlanta Parks commissioner, Trees Atlanta’s mission is to protect and beautify the urban landscape by planting and conserving the city’s trees. Since its founding, the organization has planted more than 88,000 shade trees on public and private land across the city, while also helping maintain more than 100,000 trees in city parks, rights of way, street corridors, yards and more through various contracts with the city. Some of its planting work was also done through city contracts; the group planted more than 950 large shade trees for the city during the 2008–2009 planting season.8

The organization also has an urban forestry crew that maintains the 3,500 street trees located in the downtown area by watering, mulching, pruning, staking and controlling blight and disease. This allows the city to deploy its crew to cover other maintenance needs in the city. One of the pillars of the organization’s efforts is NeighborWoods, which works with communities throughout the metro area to plant trees while building community. Trees Atlanta staff members work with neighborhood residents to identify areas — along streets, in parks or in yards — in need of trees.9 During the October to March planting season, the organization brings volunteers together for a short class on tree planting and then they work with local families and individuals to plant the trees. In the spring and summer months, volunteers and neighbors help water and mulch the newly planted trees. Once the trees are planted, neighborhood associations are tasked with developing a plan to care for the trees, which is especially crucial in the first two years.10

Clinton Steeds

The organization has found that tree planting can be a catalyst for cooperation and community building in the city’s diverse neighborhoods. “Trees Atlanta’s NeighborWoods program has played a crucial role in the revitalization of the Capitol View


Urban Forests Case Studies


One of Trees Atlanta’s unique programs designed to bring communities together is its Neighborhood Arboreta, which were created to encourage community involvement in the urban forest. Like a traditional arboretum, each of the seven Neighborhood Arboreta exhibits rare native trees — these trees just happen to be found in a yard or sidewalk planting strip instead of a botanic garden or park. Atlanta’s Neighborhood Arboreta have engraved markers to identify the trees, but instead of following a path, each arboretum has its own walking map, and visitors use a brochure to locate and learn more about the arboretum trees within the neighborhood.12

to work with area citizens to plant 10,000 trees in Decatur and Atlanta. So far, the initiative is about halfway to its goal.14


Then, there’s Mayor Kasim Reed’s Cities of Service plan titled “Forward Together,” designed to address two of the city’s biggest needs: youth development and community beautification.15 Launched in March 2011, the plan’s Love Your Block initiative aims to connect volunteers with Atlanta-based organizations already working to beautify neighborhoods across the city, such as Trees Atlanta. When announcing “Forward Together,” Reed said, “I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and begin working with residents to clean up and beautify our neighborhoods as part of the Love Your Block program.”16

Smith Park before (right) and after (below) its restoration as part of Park Pride’s Adopt-aPark program

Trees Atlanta also does outreach in schools and at community meetings and festivals and has an educational center, where it holds workshops, conferences and training sessions. An on-site demonstration area features the latest methods of growing healthy urban trees, such as using structured soils and rainwater collection mechanisms.13

trees are being planted in Decatur and Atlanta through the help of a corporate partner.

Park Pride

neighborhood,” say Greta and Monty DeMayo of Capitol View. “Together, we’ve planted more than 300 trees in our community. The result was an increase in community pride, beautification and the improvement of the urban environment in which we live, work and play.”11

Park Pride

Atlanta’s urban forest benefits from corporate partnerships as well. For example, the Nalley Tree Campaign was created by the Nalley Automotive dealerships in Decatur, in partnership with the city of Decatur, DeKalb County, Trees Atlanta, Park Pride and Keep DeKalb Beautiful. The goal of the campaign is

Involving Neighborhoods and Communities



Atlanta’s more than 3,000 acres of parkland are also an important component of the city’s urban forest, despite the fact that Atlanta’s city parkland is far less than other major cities. Helping maintain these green oases is Park Pride, a nonprofit founded in 1989 and dedicated to improving the capital’s parks. Park Pride coordinates more than 20,000 hours of volunteer

Turning Brownfields to Greenfields

key point The Atlanta Beltline will integrate transportation, land use, greenspace and sustainable growth to connect 45 city neighborhoods.

A major effort is afoot in Atlanta to bring greenery to abandoned industrial sites, or brownfields. The centerpiece of that effort is the Atlanta Beltline, a project that involves building a 22-mile ring of parks, trails, public transportation, educational signs and other features along an old railroad track that rings the city. As described on the project’s website, “the Atlanta BeltLine is transforming the city with a combination of rail, trail, greenspace, housing and art.” The project, which will be constructed over the next 20 years, will connect 45 in-town neighborhoods and greatly expand the city’s greenspace and trail network. The goal of the Atlanta Beltline is to create an integrated approach to transportation, land use, greenspace and sustainable growth. The project will create 22 miles of pedestrian-friendly rail transit, 33 miles of multi-use trails, 1,300 acres of parks, 5,600 units of affordable housing and






M T.


Urban Forests Case Studies

1,100 acres of remediated brownfields.19 Its implementation is being overseen by Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) formed in 2006 by Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development arm, for the purpose of managing the development of the project. Partnering with ABI on the project

Eastside Trail under construction

Eastside Trail before renovation


work every year in Atlanta’s parks.17 Through the organization’s Adopt-a-Park program, residents, neighborhood associations and businesses can take responsibility for improving small tracts of land (less than a quarter of an acre) for the benefit of the community.18 Park Pride was also a strong advocate for legislation to fund the Atlanta BeltLine.


is a diversity of organizations, including the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority and other city departments, the Georgia Department of Transportation, Trees Atlanta, the Trust for Public Land and others.20

and rainwater management in place. When completed, the Atlanta BeltLine will be the world’s longest arboretum and will educate residents and visitors about the health, economic and ecological benefits of urban trees.21

One of the components of the project is the BeltLine Arboretum, which involves the reforestation of the 22-mile beltline corridor. The BeltLine Arboretum will create “an elaborately curated, city-scale mix of existing and cultivated tree species that is at once an urban forest, an ecological connector, a corridor for scientific research and a collection of remarkable public spaces.” Work on the project will include creek restoration, urban forest rehabilitation and brownfield reclamation. The arboretum will also feature a variety of “natural neighborhoods” that are each designed with a specific theme — such as The Gap, which will symbolize the city’s connection with railroads by featuring species used for railroad materials, wood products and wood manufacturing, or Clear Creek, which will be a refuge for birds and wildlife with water gardens

Trees Atlanta’s Levine relates how the Atlanta BeltLine is an important tool in defragmenting the city’s urban forest. “Fragmentation allows for invasive species to take over and degrade the health of our remaining urban forests. This destroys wildlife habitat and reduces the quality of our water and air. The Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum is an opportunity to reconnect the forest,” he says. Overall, Atlanta is making good progress in expanding and improving its urban forest through its strong ordinance and programs like NeighborWoods, organizations like Trees Atlanta and Park Pride and its many arboreta, but “it’s an ongoing process,” says Parks Director Voss. “I think we have a pretty healthy tree canopy, and we need to just keep it going.”

“It’s an ongoing process. I think we have a pretty healthy tree canopy, and we need to just keep it going.” Doug Voss Director City of Atlanta Department of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs

Special Thanks to: Bethany Clark, communications and office manager, Trees Atlanta Greg Levine, coexecutive director and chief program officer, Trees Atlanta Doug Voss, director, City of Atlanta Department of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs

Christopher T. Martin

Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail dedication after renovation

Involving Neighborhoods and Communities






Seattle Quick Facts Who Seattle Department of Transportation Street Use and Urban Forestry Division Staff 34 staff members, including an urban forestry manager, senior landscape architect, city arborist, operations manager, administrative specialist, administrative staff analyst, arboriculturists, tree crew supervisor, lead tree trimmers, tree trimmers, landscape supervisor, senior gardeners, gardeners and irrigation specialists Canopy Approximately 150,000 street trees; 40,000 actively maintained with 110,000 regulated but privately maintained Key Forestry Tasks Street tree and landscape maintenance, landscape architectural design and plan review, emergency services, permitting, regulation enforcement, volunteer management and education Partners Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, Department of Planning and Development, Fleets and Administrative Services, Seattle Center, Office of Sustainability, Forterra, Plant Amnesty and Seattle Audubon 84

Citywide Greening Initiative Neighborhood Improvement Projects KEY TOPICS

Public-Private Partnership Public-Public Partnership Stormwater and Watershed Management Tree-care Training Program Urban Forest Management Plan

Seattle, Washington, sits on a narrow strip of land between Puget Sound on the west and Lake Washington on the east with the Olympic and Cascade Mountains

looming in the distance. This orientation gives the city a

mild marine climate, ideally suited for vegetation to thrive. In addition, in 1902, the city hired the famed Olmsted

Brothers landscape architecture firm to prepare a plan for the city’s parks and parkways, which was adopted

by the City Council in 1903.1 Despite these foundations

for a vibrant, healthy urban forest, Seattle saw its tree

canopy coverage decrease from 40 percent in the 1970s

to 18 percent in 2007.2 In the last decade, Seattle has been trying to transform itself into a model green city.

Urban Forestry Partnerships



Partnerships for the Urban Forest

key point With three-quarters of Seattle’s land privately owned, its important to get community involvement in urban forestry initiatives.

Seattle’s emergence into the national spotlight for green initiatives is often linked to former-Mayor Greg Nickels, who in 2005 began a campaign to encourage mayors across the country to adopt the climate change goals of the Kyoto Protocol on a city level. Just two years later, the 500th mayor signed onto the Nickels-led U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.3 In reality, though, Seattle’s sustainability efforts began earlier, notably under Nickels’ predecessor, Mayor Paul Schell, whose background was city planning and development. Schell and others started the ball rolling for Nickels to solidify. As Jill Simmons with the city’s Office of Sustainability and Environment told a Seattle Met reporter in 2008, “The city has been committed to sustainability for a long time. It’s not like Seattle magically began looking at climate change in February 2005. But the mayor’s Climate Protection initiative really gave everything a kick in the butt.”4 Over the next few years, the city would institute a number of management plans designed to enhance Seattle’s greenspaces. In 2004, under prompting from Nickels, the city of Seattle and the nonprofit Forterra (then-known as Cascade Land Conservancy) joined together to create the Green Seattle Partnership. This public-private partnership is based around a 20-year strategic plan to create “a healthy, livable city with a sustainable urban forest.” The plan identifies 2,500 acres of greenspace managed by Seattle Parks and Recreation — Seattle has more than 6,000 acres of parkland in total — for restoration by 2025 and will focus specifically on addressing invasive plant issues plaguing the city and planting a sustainable, near-native forest for the future. It’s estimated that without management, 70 percent of Seattle’s forested land will be ecologically dead in 20 years due to invasive plants.5


Urban Forests Case Studies

Larisa lumba

Kory Kramer, Forterra’s Green Cities program manager, describes how Green Seattle’s restoration work plan began with habitat “Treeiage,” developed by Seattle Parks and Recreation, which involves breaking down the 2,500 identified acres

Student Conservation Association volunteers on Green Seattle Day


into small units for individual management strategies. These strategies are then built around four key phases of restoration work — removing invasives, doing a second sweep for invasives while conducting planting activities, short-term maintenance and long-term maintenance. The important next step is to assign costs to each stage and type of area, creating a funding target. The success of the Green Seattle Partnership has not only spurred five other Puget Sound communities to adopt the Green City model, but New York City has also used the partnership as a model. One of the most interesting things about this work is that it’s being conducted mainly by volunteers. “If we want to look at what’s unique about the Green Cities program — and we hear it over and over again from our city partners — its biggest strength is getting the community involved in this work,” says Kramer. “The Green Seattle Partnership last year had well more than 80,000 volunteer hours dedicated to restoration work on the parks.” Adds Mark Mead, senior urban forester for Seattle Parks and Recreation, “Another measure of our success is that through direct donations, grants and outside sources, the citizens and nonprofit partners have matched Parks funding at a two-forone level. This is truly an amazing program.” Mead attributes the success of the program to the direct application of the Urban Forest Sustainability Model that was presented in the January 1997 issue Journal of Arboriculture by leading urban foresters. The model outlines the three elements essential for a sustainable, beneficial urban forest: a healthy forest and other vegetation, community-wide support and a comprehensive management approach. It also emphasizes the need for periodically assessing the status of each of the elements to ensure that sustainability goals are achieved.6 “The model emphasizes that a successful urban forestry program must know the science behind what is happening in the forest, or our Treeiage; it must

know who is managing the forest with what resources; and it must fully engage the community in the work and advocacy. The Green Seattle Partnership works on all three of these elements at the same time, assuring its success. “ While planting projects are included in the Green Seattle plan, these volunteers are also helping plant trees as part of Seattle reLeaf. Seattle reLeaf is a city program devised as a way to help Seattle achieve the canopy goals set forth in its firstever urban forest plan, the 2007 Urban Forest Management Plan. In the plan, Seattle identifies that by 2037, the canopy cover in the city should reach 30 percent through the addition of an estimated 649,000 new trees on private property, in parks, on commercial property and industrial sites and more.7 With approximately 74 percent of Seattle’s land privately owned, the city identified a need to engage residents in planting efforts outside of the park work happening with Green Seattle. Since 1996, the city’s Department of Neighborhoods has provided more than 17,000 trees to more than 600 neighborhood groups for planting through its Neighborhood Matching Fund’s Tree Fund program.8 After the release of the Urban Forest Management Plan, this program morphed into Seattle reLeaf’s Trees for Neighborhoods, which provides free trees to Seattle residents each fall for planting on private property. The Trees for Neighborhoods program works hand-in-hand with Seattle’s Tree Ambassador program, which trains residents in the basics of urban forestry, leadership and community organizing with the goal that they will engage their individual communities around urban forest work, such as invasives removal, tree plantings and pruning. Kramer relates that Seattle’s more than 130 Forest Stewards and 40 Tree Ambassadors contribute thousands of valuable volunteer hours to urban forestry work every year.

“The model emphasizes that a successful urban forestry program must know the science behind what is happening in the forest, or our Treeiage; it must know who is managing the forest with what resources; and it must fully engage the community in the work and advocacy.” Mark Mead Senior Urban Forester City of Seattle

80,000 volunteer hours dedicated to park restoration work in 2011

Urban Forestry Partnerships



Involved City Departments Neighborhoods are also receiving trees through the Department of Transportation’s Bridging the Gap initiative. While Bridging the Gap, funded by a nine-year, $365 million levy, is primarily designed to address transportation maintenance and improvements,9 the initiative’s Community Tree Program works with neighborhoods to plant more than 800 new street trees per year that will be maintained by the Department of Transportation.10 key point The city’s electric and water utilities are important partners in Seattle’s urban forestry work.

The city’s publicly owned utility, Seattle City Light, has also played a significant role in expanding and maintaining Seattle’s urban forest. Through its urban tree replacement program, Seattle City Light has planted 7,860 trees along its power lines in the metro Seattle area since 2000 and more than 40,000 native shrubs and bushes along rights of way to help restore vegetation cleared for utility line work and maintenance. Seattle City Light also offers urban landscape tree certificates to residents to offset its tree removals and partners with the Department of Transportation on its neighborhood tree planting work.

Seattle City Light has been invested in the urban forest for a long time. The utility adopted its first conservation program, Kill-a-Watt, back in 1973 and has been working with nonprofit The Nature Conservancy since the early 1980s to protect wildlife habitats. To date, Seattle City Light has purchased more than 10,000 acres to protect wildlife habitat, especially that of the various salmon and trout species in the Skagit and Tolt watersheds. As Lorraine Loomis with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community’s Fisheries Department related in 2009, “Whether it has been through the purchase of strategic parcels for protection of important habitats, its water


Urban Forests Case Studies


Montlake Cut in Lake Washington


management strategies or its funding of research or restoration projects vital to the ongoing protection of anadromous salmonids, City Light has demonstrated that a public utility can provide a reliable source of energy while at the same time conserving and enhancing natural resources.”11

To engage residents in mitigating the city’s CSO problems, SPU created Residential RainWise to encourage Seattleites to install green infrastructure on their property. Through the program, residents in select CSO drainage basins can receive rebates from the city for installing rain gardens and cisterns. RainWise also encourages residents to plant trees, reduce paved area and use compost and mulch to help with stormwater retention.15


trees have been planted by Seattle City Light along power lines since 2000.

Landscaping in planting strips

Allie Gerlach, SDOT

Allie Gerlach/SDOT

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), which encompasses the city’s water and engineering activities, is another essential Green Seattle partner and is working towards greener solutions for utility demands. Each year, Seattle’s stormwater carries more than 8,200 tons of toxic metals and volatile chemicals into the city’s waterways. In addition, in 2010, 190 million gallons of combined raw sewage and stormwater spilled into Seattle’s waterways. To address the problem, Seattle worked with federal and state regulators to develop a costeffective and environmentally beneficial plan to solve its dual problems of stormwater and sewage, instead of just addressing one of the issues. This 2012 agreement is expected to save the city $375 million over the next 13 years.12

The new agreement builds on many plans already underway by SPU, such as its Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Reduction Plan. As part of a 2010 amendment to the CSO plan, SPU began a pilot project in the city’s Ballard Basin to study the effectiveness of green infrastructure — rain gardens, green roofs, cisterns and more — as a stormwater control.13 Recently, the city began monitoring the performance of Ballard’s new roadside rain gardens14 and plans to use the lessons learned from this pilot project to implement full-scale green projects in other drainage basins in the city.

SDOT encourages property owners to plant gardens in planting strips between the sidewalk and street area.

Urban Forestry Partnerships



Plans for the Future key point Updating the city’s tree ordinances dealing with both street and private trees will help protect the urban forest in the coming years.

Allie Gerlach/SDOT

New LED lights on Lake Washington Boulevard

A hallmark of Seattle’s urban forest successes lies with the city’s cooperative efforts. For decades, an interdepartmental team representing various parties concerned with Seattle’s trees has been meeting to make sure all departments are on the same page. The Urban Forest Management Plan further solidified the collaboration among all of the different departments responsible for Seattle’s urban forest. Urban forester Mead relates that there’s good communication today among all of the different parties, resulting in a well-coordinated urban forest effort. As with the Green Seattle Partnership, the Urban Forest Management Plan is based upon the Urban Forest Sustainability Model. Nolan Rundquist, city arborist with the Seattle Department of Transportation, mentions that three different assessments of Seattle’s urban forest have been completed over the years, but each contractor used a different methodology. The city is currently working on updating the Urban Forest Management Plan in an effort to assess the city’s progress in the last five years and part of this involves analyzing the different assessments to provide a more uniform look at Seattle’s forest. “We’ll have more definitive and specific information and the ability to actually gauge how successful we’ve been in managing this forest,” Mead says. “We feel really comfortable that we’re going to find out some good info. Probably some bad [info], too, but I think we’re going to be pretty happy with what we find.” Like many other cities, Seattle is also struggling with a lack of age distribution in the urban forest. “We planted pretty well up to 1930s. Then, we stopped planting,” Mead says. “The forest was basically planted 80 years ago, so now they’re falling down. We had pretty poor management up until 10 or 15 years ago.” Finding the funding for a robust management and maintenance program — so essential to ensuring the long-term health of the urban forest — has


Urban Forests Case Studies


also been difficult, adds Rundquist. “We’ve been able to add another maintenance crew to our staff, but we could definitely use more staffing for maintenance,” he says. Updating the tree ordinances is another key to maintaining the health of the urban canopy. As Rundquist mentions, the city’s ordinance that deals with street trees hasn’t been updated since 1962, and the Tree Protection code, which deals with private property trees, hasn’t been updated in a decade.16 “We’ve made a lot of strides as far as tree protection in public places,” says Rundquist. “We’ve implemented tree protection zones. We have posters that display the values of trees when a construction project is underway so that people will stop and think, ‘I can’t damage this tree

because it’s worth $20,000.’ We’re making good inroads in making sure the value of trees is out there in the development community, but a more involved education effort is needed to reach out to all of the constituents. If we’re going to grow the canopy, we really need to market the benefits and desirability of having canopy.” Despite its challenges, the city is making tremendous progress in restoring Seattle’s urban forest, Mead says. “Certainly not getting the total amount of money we want to invest is hindering our work, but using what we have, we’re doing outrageously well,” he says. “The economy has hurt us just like everybody else, but we are continuing to thrive despite that. Seattleites love their trees.”

“If we’re going to grow the canopy, we really need to market the benefits and desirability of having canopy.” Nolan Rundquist City Arborist City of Seattle

Special Thanks to: David Bayard, arboriculturist, Seattle City Light Kory Kramer, Green Cities program manager, Forterra Mark Mead, senior urban forester, City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Nolan Rundquist, city arborist, City of Seattle Department of Transportation

David Herrara

Seattle skyline

Urban forestry urban Forestry Partnerships







Detroit Quick Facts Who City of Detroit General Services Department Staff More than 20 staff members Canopy 22.5 percent canopy cover; an inventory is underway to determine exact tree count Partners The Greening of Detroit, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Forest Service, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality


Neighborhood Improvement Projects Public-Private Partnership KEY TOPICS

Public-Public Partnership Regional Cooperative Effort Stormwater and Watershed Management Tree Giveaways Tree-care Training Program

In the late-19

and early 20th centuries, Detroit was honored as a “city of trees.”1 But in the mid-20th century, Detroit’s urban canopy suffered a tremendous blow that urban forest advocates have been struggling to overcome ever since. Elms once dominated the city, but after Dutch elm disease reached Detroit around 1950, the city began losing trees at an alarming rate. Between 1950 and 1980, about 500,000 trees succumbed to the disease, urban expansion or neglect.2 Economic constraints prevented the city from replacing those trees, and Detroit’s urban forest languished in a state of limbo for decades. Adding insult to injury, a new invasive pest, emerald ash borer, arrived in Detroit in 2002 and has since decimated the city’s ash trees — many of which were planted to replace the lost elm trees. th

Deep budget cuts have also taken a toll on the city’s forestry program, which is overseen by Detroit’s General Services Department. Associate Forester Todd Mistor says that during the city’s halcyon days in the 1960s and 70s, it employed about 400 individuals, but today, there are only 22. “Certainly our budget is constricted more and more every year,” he says. “Part of the result is that as people retire, we don’t fill those positions again.”

Urban Forestry Partnerships



“Land cover, greenways, green infrastructure, stormwater management — all of that plays into the greening of Detroit.” Kevin Sayers Urban and Community Forester Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The lack of resources means the forestry team has to focus on “the worst of the worst,” he says. “We’re out looking for dead trees every day. We have thousands of standing dead ash and still a lot of dead elm.” The ambitious efforts of nonprofit organizations, federal and state agencies and volunteers have helped fill the urban forestry gap created by Detroit’s thin municipal budgets. The recovery of Detroit’s urban forest, though, requires much more than just planting trees to replace those lost to disease and infestation. “Land cover, greenways, green infrastructure, stormwater management — all of that plays into the greening of Detroit,” says Kevin Sayers, urban and community forester for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. A 2005 Urban Ecosystem Analysis conducted by American Forests reported a canopy of 31 percent in Detroit, but by the time a 2008 survey was completed, that number had dropped to 22.5 percent. While some of this difference may be the result of the differing types of tools and analysis being used, it is a stark example of the toll emerald ash borer has taken. The 2008 study did contain good news, though: There is a lot of available space for trees, which means the canopy could be much greater. “We have a lot of vacant land in the city,” says Dean Hay, director of green infrastructure for the nonprofit The Greening of Detroit.

The U.S. Forest Service is funding the first-ever inventory of the city’s street trees, which is being conducted by Ohio-based Davey Research Group, (DRG) a division of The Davey Tree Expert Company, which specializes in green infrastructure assessments. DRG’s foresters have inventoried about three-quarters of the city so far, but additional funding will need to be secured to complete the project, says Sayers. Michigan Department of Natural Resources is overseeing the project. The Forest Service, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), the city of Detroit and The Greening of Detroit plan to use the data to prioritize tree planting efforts, maximize the use of vegetation to absorb stormwater runoff and track disease and pest outbreaks. Finding a problem early could save many trees and a lot of money, Sayers notes. The inventory has also had the added benefit of fostering cooperation among many of the different entities, both public and private, working on urban forest-related issues, Sayers adds. “It has helped in strengthening the partnerships between The Greening of Detroit, SEMCOG, Davey Trees and the city,” he says.


Urban Forests Case Studies

Dig Downtown Detroit

Detroit’s New Center


A Nonprofit Force The Greening of Detroit has become well-known in the city as one of the primary forces behind the urban forest restoration and green infrastructure push of recent years. The organization formed in 1989 when founder Elizabeth Gordon Sachs brought together key Detroit residents, business people and industry professionals to reforest the city. At the time, Detroit, like many U.S. cities, was losing an average of four trees for every one planted.3 The organization’s original mission was to plant trees. Hay says that the group has planted about 70,000 trees throughout the city since 1989. Over the years, though, The Greening of Detroit has expanded — thanks partly to such partnerships as with the Forest Service’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative — to include educational programs, urban agriculture, open space reclamation, green infrastructure initiatives, green workforce development, advocacy and community building. The nonprofit often partners with federal, state and local agencies; corporations; and foundations to assist neighborhood groups, churches and schools with tree planting and green infrastructure projects. The Greening of Detroit teamed up with police officers, local police precincts and community residents a few years ago on an innovative project to build community and trust by working together to plant trees in Detroit neighborhoods. The program, called Green Connections, resulted not only in greener, cooler neighborhoods, but also better relations between residents and their local patrol officers — participants observed that people in the neighborhood felt more comfortable walking past the precinct and talking with police officers after a Green Connections event.

to youth, employing Detroit high school students to help water and maintain trees around the city. An adult workforce program was added to provide unemployed and under-employed Detroiters with training in green industry skills. Detroit GreenWorks Solutions is taking advantage of The Greening of Detroit’s training background to provide formal training in agriculture, forestry, weatherization and other green jobs to disadvantaged residents. Led by Southwest Housing Solutions with training by the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund, The Greening of Detroit, Henry Ford Community College and the WARM Training Center, the three-year-old program began through a $4 million, two-year “Pathways Out of Poverty” grant from the U.S. Department of Labor as a way to help with the city’s unemployment issues.4

key point The Greening of Detroit has teamed with local police and residents on tree planting projects to help build community and trust in neighborhoods.

70,000 trees planted in the city by The Greening of Detroit since 1989

Tree planting efforts in Detroit

Therese Poland/U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station

Given Detroit’s economic situation, The Greening of Detroit has expanded into green jobs training, too. The program initially catered

Urban forestry urban Forestry Partnerships




vacant lots were replanted in a year to turn marks of urban blight into green oases.

Green infrastructure projects also bring muchneeded aesthetic benefits to the city. In targeting vacant lots, for example, Greening of Detroit transforms a mark of urban blight into a green oasis. The organization replanted 1,370 vacant lots in 2009 with wildflowers, trees or shrubs,5 and in 2011, it helped plant more than 1,400 community vegetable gardens throughout the city and provided environmental education instruction to more than 5,000 school-age students. Overall, The Greening of Detroit has helped install 77 schoolyard habitats, educated more than 30,000 youth and trained 1,900 educators to foster Detroit’s next generation of environmental stewards. In terms of its tree planting projects, The Greening of Detroit works closely with the city’s General Services Department — and sometimes the Water and Sewerage and Recreation Departments — to determine where to place trees. “The city actually relies on us to do tree planting,” Hay says. “Whenever an area opens up or a neighborhood wants to do planting, we get involved.”

Rebecca Salminen Witt, The Greening of Detroit’s president, notes that once a community starts planting trees, residents often become interested in developing other projects with The Greening of Detroit, such as urban gardens. The tree plantings have helped build community by bringing people out of their homes to meet and interact with their neighbors, she says. With so much to do to restore the city’s urban forest, the organization has found it helpful to prioritize its work, Hay adds. “Because there’s so much planting to do, our main focus in the forestry arena and our funding for trees goes toward neighborhood-based tree planting and then maintenance for three years afterwards,” he says. The organization is focusing its planting efforts on places where re-establishing trees would bring the greatest benefits for the ecosystem as a whole, either in helping to reclaim brownfields, absorb stormwater runoff or filter pollution.

Grand Circus Park

“Because there’s so much planting to do, our main focus in the forestry arena and our funding for trees goes toward neighborhood-based tree planting and then maintenance for three years afterwards.”

Mike Russell

Dean Hay Green Infrastructure Director The Greening of Detroit


Urban Forests Case Studies

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region

Detroit William G. Milliken State Park stormwater treatment system along the Detroit RiverWalk

Greening for Stormwater Stormwater management is one of Detroit’s biggest challenges, and several efforts are underway to use green infrastructure to help address the problem. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), which represents more than 150 local governments in Southeast Michigan, is working to expand green infrastructure and maximize its benefits in the region. It has collaborated with the city and The Greening of Detroit to identify where trees and other types of green infrastructure can be planted and constructed to slow down and absorb stormwater runoff, which contributes to the pollution of the Great Lakes. One of the efforts SEMCOG is involved in is helping identify locations for green infrastructure to help restore and protect the Rouge River watershed, which covers 48 different communities in three counties. In the 1980s, the Rouge River was designated an Area of Concern by the International Joint Commission because of the impact the watershed has on the Great Lakes. Since then, many efforts have been undertaken to address myriad problems — combined sewage overflow (CSO), pollution, erosion and more — facing the Rouge River. While groups like the Alliance of Rouge Communities have found some

key point SEMCOG and partners are working to use green infrastructure as a solution to problems facing the local watershed.

success with rain gardens, rain barrels and basin disconnect programs, CSO and stormwater runoff are issues still impacting the watershed. In the 1990s and 2000s, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department was focused on gray infrastructure solutions to its CSO problems, but when financial crisis hit Detroit in the late 2000s, the city could no longer ask, nor rely on, its citizens to foot the bill for expensive gray infrastructure projects. The department revised its plans and began including green infrastructure as a solution, which is when SEMCOG became involved.6

Urban Forestry Partnerships


Detroit Eastern Market

Dig Downtown Detroit

Detroit Detroit Eastern Market

“We’re working with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department on how they can put in green infrastructure to achieve a 20 percent reduction of stormwater inflow into the system” to meet permit requirements, says Amy Mangus, SEMCOG’s manager of plan implementation. This work will help “a small portion of the watershed on the west side of the city.”

“The difference in Michigan compared to other places is that Michigan’s waterquality standards do not allow for any untreated discharges into waters of the state.” Amy Mangus Manager of Plan Implementation Southeast Michigan Council of Governments


Urban Forests Case Studies

Some of the types of green infrastructure that will be used under the initiative include tree planting, which is being done by The Greening of Detroit; replacing pavement with greenery in vacant lots; and installing shrubs, trees and other plants along roadways and on municipal lands, Mangus says. The funding for the projects comes from the sewer rates paid to the city, she adds. Green infrastructure may also be used in a separate effort to control overflows on the east side of Detroit. “We are just finalizing a grant agreement with the state of Michigan to partner again with the utility to develop a green infrastructure plan for the east side of Detroit,” she says. “There are nine uncontrolled combined

sewer overflows there — nine direct outflows. And there’s so much opportunity there with all the vacant land.” But because of Michigan’s strict water-quality rules, conventional gray infrastructure also will need to be used in both initiatives, Mangus adds. “This is unlike some other states that follow EPA guidance that allows some untreated overflows. The difference in Michigan compared to other places is that Michigan’s water-quality standards do not allow for any untreated discharges into waters of the state,” she explains. “So there needs to be a mechanism in place for gray infrastructure.” SEMCOG is also working on a big-picture plan for green infrastructure in southeast Michigan. “We’re mapping land cover for the whole region, and we’ll be doing various types of analysis of that data to develop a vision of green infrastructure,” Mangus says. The project, funded by a grant from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s regional sustainability planning program, will be completed in about a year.


Creating a Healthy, Connected City Another effort that SEMCOG supported was the regional GreenWays Initiative. From 2001 to 2006, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan initiative aimed to connect communities in southeast Michigan through greenways by providing funding and support for green infrastructure projects.7 While the grant-making portion of the initiative has ended, its influence can still be felt. In fact, there is an effort currently underway to ensure that the greenways remain well maintained and utilized. This effort and planning for long-term sustainability of the greenways network is being led by The Greening of Detroit and staffed by Detroiters trained in its workforce development program. In 2012, The Villages Community Development Corporation released its “A Vision of Greenways for the Greater Riverfront East District of Detroit,” which offers a plan for 16 miles of greenways along the Detroit River. Similar to the Greenways Initiative, this vision presents “a realistic plan for creating a network of greenways on Detroit’s Greater Riverfront East District. … This plan serves as a catalyst for economic development, as a tool for bringing communities together and as a way of defining a new future for Detroit’s greater riverfront east.” This plan was developed by the Greater Riverfront East Environment Network (GREEN) Task Force comprised of community residents, neighborhood and business associations and other collaborators — plus, the plan received input from the city of Detroit, Michigan Department of Transportation and others.8 A similar city-sponsored project is underway nearby. In July 2012, the city of Detroit was awarded a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for a project to promote walking and biking near downtown Detroit.9 As part of Link Detroit — a multi-modal enhancement plan designed by the city — this project will connect important commercial and business areas, such as the Detroit RiverWalk, Eastern Market, Midtown and Hamtramck destinations.

The many interconnected efforts to green Detroit and its environs, from tree planting to workforce training to green infrastructure development, are crucial not only for the ecological health of the city, but also for its economic recovery.

key point The many interconnected efforts to green Detroit are crucial not only for the ecological health of the city, but also for its economic recovery.

“Improving the economic vitality and nonmotorized connectivity in Detroit are key components to the city’s long-term sustainability and viability,” according to Link Detroit’s TIGER grant application.10 “I think the quality of the vegetation is directly correlated with the quality of life, the appearance, the appeal of a community,” adds Sayers of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “A well-maintained urban forest yields many benefits, including a greater desire to invest in the city — whether with new residents or new businesses. Healthy and well-maintained public trees establish community appeal and a sense of vibrancy that leads to healthier communities as well.” With the work and cooperation of so many groups, a healthy urban forest, healthy citizenry and healthy Detroit may very well emerge in Michigan in the years to come. “I think we’re doing a good job in improving the quality of life for people,” Associate Forester Mistor says. “We need to do it one step at a time, one block at a time.”

Special Thanks to: Dean Hay, green infrastructure director, The Greening of Detroit Amy Mangus, manager of plan implementation, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments Todd Mistor, associate forester, City of Detroit General Services Department Kevin Sayers, urban and community forester, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Rebecca Salminen Witt, president, The Greening of Detroit

Urban Forestry Partnerships



Glossary Bioswale – a landscape element designed to absorb and transport stormwater runoff to storm sewer inlets or directly to surface waters1 Caliper – the diameter of a tree’s trunk, usually measuring in inches Combined sewer overflow (CSO) – excess wastewater that is discharged directly into local waterways during heavy periods of rainfall or snowmelt2 DBH – the common tree measurement of the diameter of the trunk at breast height (usually 4–5 feet above ground level) Gallon – a word used to denote tree size by the size of the container housing the tree prior to plavnting Geographic information system (GIS) – “a computer system capable of capturing, storing, analyzing and displaying geographically referenced information; that is, data identified according to location”3 Green infrastructure – a variety of natural elements (trees, grasses, gardens) designed and/or landscaped to manage water naturally4 Green roof or ecoroof – “a vegetative layer grown on a rooftop”5 Greenway – “a corridor of undeveloped land preserved for recreational use or environmental protection”6 NeighborWoodsTM – a trademark held by the Alliance for Community Trees, representing a program that encourages volunteers to join together on tree planting and other projects designed to make their neighborhoods more vibrant and liveable7 Ordinance – “a law set forth by a governmental authority; specifically, a municipal regulation”8 Right of way – “a strip of land that is managed specifically for access or the construction and maintenance of electric, telephone, water, other domestic utilities, streets, roads and highways”9 Street tree – trees located on a strip of land between a roadway and a sidewalk Urban forests – ecosystems composed of trees and other vegetation that provide cities and municipalities with environmental, economic and social benefits. They include street and yard trees, vegetation within parks and along public rights of way, water systems, fish and wildlife Urban heat island – a built-up or urban area that is measurably hotter than its surrounding countryside.10 This phenomenon is generally caused by impermeable surfaces and other infrastructure that reflect sunlight and heat instead of absorbing them. Watershed – “an area that drains to a common waterway, such as a stream, lake, estuary, wetland, aquifer or even the ocean”11


Urban Forests Case Studies


References Portland (pp. 4–11) 1. Natural Resources Digital Library. Willamette Basin Explorer. Land Use and People. http://oregonexplorer.info/willamette/ WillametteLandandPeople (accessed Sept. 4, 2012).

2. Portland Bureau of Environmental Services. Watershed Management. Portland Watersheds. http://www.portlandonline.com/bes/index. cfm?c=32197& (accessed Sept. 4, 2012). 3. U.S. Department of Commerce. United States Census Bureau. State & County QuickFacts. Portland (city), Oregon. http://quickfacts.census. gov/qfd/states/41/4159000.html (accessed Sept. 4, 2012). 4. Portland Bureau of Environmental Services. Actions for Watershed Health. 2005 Portland Watershed Management Plan. http://www. portlandonline.com/bes/index.cfm?c=38965&a=107808 (accessed Sept. 4, 2012). 5. Portland Bureau of Environmental Services. Grey to Green Update April 2009. http://www.portlandonline.com/bes/index. cfm?c=53256&a=312546 (accessed Sept. 4, 2012).

6. Portland Bureau of Environmental Services. Tabor to the River 2009. http://www.portlandonline.com/bes/index.cfm?c=50500&a=230066 (accessed Sept. 4, 2012). 7. U.S. Department of Commerce. United States Census Bureau. Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011. http://www.census.gov/popest/data/metro/totals/2011/index. html (accessed Sept. 4, 2012). 8. Metro. http://www.oregonmetro.gov/index.cfm/go/ (accessed Sept. 4, 2012). 9. Metro. 1990-2010 Population. http://library.oregonmetro.gov/files// msa_popdata1990_2010.pdf (accessed Sept. 4, 2012).

10. Metro. Maps, data and research. http://www.oregonmetro.gov/index. cfm/go/by.web/id=24876 (accessed Sept. 4, 2012). 11. Metro. Metropolitan Greenspaces Master Plan. http://library. oregonmetro.gov/files//doc10_794_metropolitan_greenspaces_ master_plan.pdf (accessed Sept. 4, 2012).

12. The Intertwine Alliance. The Intertwine Alliance 2010-11 Annual Report. http://www.theintertwine.org/sites/default/files/file_ attachments/Intertwine%20Alliance%202011%20Report.pdf (accessed Sept. 4, 2012).

Philadelphia (pp. 12–19) 1. City of Philadelphia. Parks & Recreation. The Commission on Parks and Recreation. http://www.phila.gov/recreation/Commission_on_Parks_. html (accessed Sept. 8, 2012).

3. Philadelphia Water Department. Green City, Clean Water. http://www. phillywatersheds.org/what_were_doing/documents_and_data/ cso_long_term_control_plan/ (accessed Sept. 8, 2012). 4.

City of Philadelphia. Parks & Recreation. A Short History of the Recreation Department. http://www.phila.gov/recreation/History_1. html (accessed Sept. 8, 2012).

5. City of Philadelphia. Parks & Recreation. A Short History of the Recreation Department. http://www.phila.gov/recreation/History_2. html (accessed Sept. 8, 2012). 6. City of Philadelphia. Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. About Greenworks. http://www.phila.gov/green/greenworks/pdf/ GreenworksExecSummary.pdf (accessed Sept. 9, 2012).

7. Philly.com. Media. Mayor Nutter’s Inaugural Address. http://media. philly.com/documents/NutterInauguralSpeechFinal.pdf (accessed Sept. 8, 2012).

8. City of Philadelphia. Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. Greenworks Philadelphia Update and 2012 Progress Report. http://www.phila.gov/ green/pdfs/GW2012Report.pdf (accessed Sept. 9, 2012). 9. Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. A History. http://www. pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org/aboutus/phs_history.html (accessed Sept. 9, 2012).

10. Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. About Philadelphia Green. http:// www.pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org/phlgreen/about.html (accessed Sept. 9, 2012). 11. Plant One Million. About Plant One Million. http://www. plantonemillion.org/index.php/about/ (accessed Sept. 10, 2012).

12. City of Philadelphia. Philadelphia Water Department. Urban Water Cycle. http://www.phila.gov/water/urban_water_cycle.html (accessed Sept. 10, 2012). 13. City of Philadelphia. Philadelphia Water Department. Our Mission. http://www.phila.gov/water/Mission.html (accessed Sept. 10, 2012). 14. Philadelphia Water Department. Proposed Changes in Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Rates and Charges. http://www. phillywatersheds.org/rates (accessed Sept. 10, 2012). 15.

Philadelphia Water Department. Amended Green City, Clean Waters Program Summary. http://www.phillywatersheds.org/doc/GCCW_ AmendedJune2011_LOWRES-web.pdf (accessed Sept. 10, 2012).

16. Philadelphia Water Department. Amended Green City, Clean Waters Program Summary. http://www.phillywatersheds.org/doc/GCCW_ AmendedJune2011_LOWRES-web.pdf (accessed Sept. 10, 2012).

17. Quinlan, P. EPA’s Jackson Calls Philly’s Green Infrastructure Plan a “Model” for Other Cities. E&E News [Online] 2012. http://www.eenews. net/eenewspm/2012/04/10/5 (accessed Sept. 10, 2012).

2. City of Philadelphia. Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. Welcome to Greenworks Philadelphia. http://www.phila.gov/green/greenworks/ (accessed Sept. 8, 2012).



References Washington, D.C. (pp. 20–27) 1. The District of Columbia. Sustainable D.C. What Is Sustainable D.C.? http://sustainable.dc.gov/page/what-sustainable-dc (accessed Sept. 19, 2012). 2. The District of Columbia. Sustainable D.C. A Vision for a Sustainable D.C. http://sustainable.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/ sustainable/publication/attachments/sustainable%20DC%20 Vision%20Plan%202.2.pdf (accessed Sept. 19, 2012). 3. Casey Trees. Who We Are. Mission & History. http://caseytrees.org/ about/mission/ (accessed Sept. 19, 2012).

16. The District of Columbia. District Department of the Environment. Green Roofs int eh District. http://ddoe.dc.gov/greenroofs (accessed Sept. 21, 2012).

17. The District of Columbia. District Department of the Environment. Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System NPDES Permit No. DC0000221 Annual Report August 19, 2011. http://ddoe.dc.gov/ sites/default/files/dc/sites/ddoe/publication/attachments/2011%20 Annual%20Report%20Final.pdf (accessed Sept. 19, 2012).

4. The District of Columbia. District Department of Transportation. A Report on Washington, D.C.’s Urban Tree Canopy. http://ddot.dc.gov/ DC/DDOT/Services/Tree+Services/A+Report+on+Washington,+DCs+ Urban+Tree+Canopy (accessed Sept. 20, 2012).

Milwaukee (pp. 28–35)

6. National Park Service. National Capital Region. Park Units Administered. http://www.nps.gov/ncro/UnitsAdministered.htm (accessed Sept. 20, 2012).

2. i-Tree. i-Tree Resources. i-Tree Ecosystem Analysis Milwaukee: Urban Forest Effects and Values September 2008. http://www.itreetools. org/resources/reports/Milwaukee%20Ecosystem%20Analysis.pdf (accessed Aug. 9, 2012).

5. The District of Columbia. District Department of Transportation. Become a Canopy Keeper: Adopt a Tree. http://ddot.dc.gov/DC/DDOT/ Services/Tree+Services/Become+a+Canopy+Keeper:+Adopt+a+Tree (accessed Sept. 20, 2012).

7. Ragsdale, N. Interview With James L. Sherald, Former Chief of Natural Resources and Science for the National Capital Region, National Park Service. Outlooks on Pest Management. 2010, 21(5), 219-222. 8.

National Park Service. Planning, Environment & Public Comment. National Mall Plan. http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome. cfm?projectID=17190 (accessed Sept. 20, 2012).

9. National Park Service. Planning, Environment & Public Comment. Reconstruct Turf and Soil on the National Mall. http://parkplanning. nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=28606 (accessed Sept. 20, 2012). 10. The Urban Institute. State of Washington, D.C.’s Neighborhoods 2010. http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/412333-state-of-DCneighborhoods.pdf (accessed Sept. 19, 2012).

11. District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority. News & Publications. District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority Combined Sewer Overflow Control Activities Biannual Report October 2012. http:// www.dcwater.com/news/publications/CSO_Oct_2012_web.pdf (accessed Sept. 20, 2012). 12. The District of Columbia. District Department of the Environment. Stormwater Management. http://ddoe.dc.gov/stormwater (accessed Sept. 19, 2012). 13. The District of Columbia. District Department of the Environment. RiverSmart Homes – Success Stories. http://ddoe.dc.gov/service/ riversmart-homes-success-stories (accessed Sept. 20, 2012).

14. Bolin, B. Stormwater Program Nears Reality in Prince George’s. Greater Greater Washington. 2012. http://greatergreaterwashington.org/ post/15273/stormwater-program-nears-reality-in-prince-georges/ (accessed Sept. 20, 2012).


15. The District of Columbia. District Department of the Environment. RiverSmart Schools. http://ddoe.dc.gov/service/riversmart-schools (accessed Sept. 19, 2012).

Urban Forests Case Studies

1. Wisconsin State Climatology Office. Past Wisconsin Climate. Cumulative Snowfall: Milwaukee 2010-2011. http://www.aos.wisc. edu/~sco/clim-history/stations/mke/mke-sts-2010-11.gif (accessed Aug. 9, 2012).

3. City of Milwaukee. Department of Public Works. About DPW. http:// city.milwaukee.gov/mpw/general/About.htm (accessed Aug. 9, 2012).

4. Behm, D. 2 Billion Gallons of Sewage, Stormwater Overflowed. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [Online] 2010. http://www.jsonline.com/ news/milwaukee/99365209.html (accessed Aug. 9, 2012). 5. U.S. Forest Service. Northeastern Area. Forest Health Protection — Emerald Ash Borer. http://na.fs.fed.us/fhp/eab/ (accessed Aug. 9, 2012).

Sacramento (pp. 36–43) 1. McPherson, E.G. and Luttinger, N. From Nature to Nurture: The History of Sacramento’s Urban Forest. Journal of Arboriculture. 1998, 24(2), 72-88. 2. McPherson and Luttinger.

3. American Lung Association. State of the Air 2012. California. Sacramento County. http://www.stateoftheair.org/2012/states/ california/sacramento-06067.html (accessed Sept. 7, 2012).

4. The Weather Channel. Monthly Averages for Sacramento, CA. http:// www.weather.com/weather/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/ USCA0967 (accessed Sept. 7, 2012).

5. Sacramento Tree Foundation. Plant. Purpose and Goals of the Greenprint. http://www.sactree.com/pages/74 (accessed Sept. 7, 2012). 6. Sacramento Tree Foundation. Plant. Elements of the Greenprint. http://www.sactree.com/pages/75 (accessed Sept. 7, 2012).


Austin (pp. 44–51) 1. National Weather Service Regional Office. Southern Region Headquarters. 100 Degree Days for the Southern Plains for 2011. http:// www.srh.noaa.gov/srh/climate/?n=100degree2011 (accessed Aug. 16, 2012). 2. National Weather Service Regional Office. Southern Region Headquarters. Austin Climate Summary. http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ images/ewx/aus/ausclisum.pdf (accessed Aug. 16, 2012).

3. Austin City Council. Resolution No. 010517-27 Heat Island Mitigation. Adopted May 17, 2001.

4. Buchholz, B. Margret Hofmann, Austin’s “Tree Lady,” Devoted Her Life to Peace, Conservation. Austin American-Statesman [Online] 2012. http://www.statesman.com/news/local/margret-hofmann-austinstree-lady-devoted-her-life-2144773.html (accessed Aug. 16, 2012).

5. Coppola, S. Austin Names Tiny Park After Tree Lady. Austin AmericanStatesman [Online] 2010. http://www.statesman.com/news/local/ austin-names-tiny-park-after-tree-lady-604123.html (accessed Aug. 16, 2012). 6. City of Austin Office of Sustainability. Climate Action Report 20112012. http://issuu.com/austinclimateprotection/docs/city_of_ austin_2010-2011_climate_action_report (accessed Aug. 16, 2012).

7. Austin Energy. About Us. Company Profile. http://www.austinenergy. com/About%20Us/Company%20Profile/index.htm (accessed Aug. 16, 2012). 8. Austin City Council. Resolution No. 20090827-057. Adopted Aug. 27, 2009. 9. City of Austin Office of Sustainability. Green Roof Advisory Group Report to Austin City Council October 28, 2010. http://www. austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Sustainability/Green_ Roof/2010_GRAG_Report_to_Council.pdf (accessed Aug. 16, 2012).

10. Austin City Council. Resolution No. 20101104-023. Adopted Nov. 4, 2010. 11. City of Austin Office of Sustainability. Green Roofs. http://www. austintexas.gov/department/green-roofs (accessed Aug. 16, 2012).

Baltimore (pp. 52–59) 1. Live Baltimore. Neighborhood Profiles. http://www.livebaltimore.com/ neighborhoods/list/ (accessed Sept. 25, 2012). 2. Jacobson, J. The Color Line. Urbanite [Online] 2010. http:// www.urbanitebaltimore.com/baltimore/the-color-line/ Content?oid=1262422 (accessed Sept. 25, 2012).

3. City of Baltimore. Baltimore’s Cities of Service Plan. stepUP! Baltimore: Volunteers for Change. http://stepup.baltimorecity.gov/Portals/ stepUP/documents/StepUpBaltimoreFINAL.pdf (accessed Sept. 26, 2012).

5. Parks & People Foundation. About Parks & People. Our History. http:// www.parksandpeople.org/about/our-history/ (accessed Sept. 25, 2012). 6. Baltimore Tree Trust. http://www.baltimoretreetrust.org (accessed Sept. 25, 2012).

7. City of Baltimore. Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks. TreeBaltimore. Constellation Energy Committed $300,000 For Tree Planting And Maintenance http://bcrp.baltimorecity.gov/ ProgramsandInitiatives/TreeBaltimore/News/tabid/3027/articleType/ ArticleView/articleId/3270/Constellation-Energy-committed-300000for-tree-planting-and-maintenance.aspx (accessed Sept. 25, 2012). 8. City of Baltimore. Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks. TreeBaltimore. http://bcrp.baltimorecity.gov/ProgramsandInitiatives/ TreeBaltimore.aspx (accessed Sept. 25, 2012). 9. Dewar, H. Tree Town. Urbanite [Online] 2010. http://www. urbanitebaltimore.com/baltimore/tree-town/Content?oid=1277010 (accessed Sept. 25, 2012).

10. City of Baltimore. Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks. TreeBaltimore. Programs. http://bcrp.baltimorecity.gov/ ProgramsandInitiatives/TreeBaltimore/Programs.aspx (accessed Sept. 26, 2012). 11. City of Baltimore. Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks. TreeBaltimore. Value of Baltimore’s Trees. http://bcrp.baltimorecity. gov/ProgramsandInitiatives/TreeBaltimore/ValueofBaltimoresTrees. aspx (accessed Sept. 25, 2012). 12. State of Maryland. Department of Natural Resources. Forest Service. Urban & Community Forestry. http://www.dnr.state.md.us/forests/ programs/urban/rb.html (accessed Sept. 26, 2012).

13. Parks & Peopled Foundation. Greening. Greening for Water Quality. Watershed 263. http://www.parksandpeople.org/greening/greeningfor-water-quality/watershed-263/ (accessed Sept. 26, 2012). 14. Blue Water Baltimore. Mission & History. Merger: The Story of Five Baltimore Watershed Organizations That Became One. http://bluewaterbaltimore.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/ BaltimoreMerger_Final_Feb2011.pdf (accessed Sept. 26, 2012).

15. Blue Water Baltimore. Mission & History. http://www. bluewaterbaltimore.org/about/mission_history/ (accessed Sept. 26, 2012).

16. Baltimore Ecosystem Study. http://www.beslter.org/ (accessed Sept. 26, 2012).

17. Baltimore Ecosystem Study. http://www.beslter.org/ (accessed Sept. 26, 2012).

18. Troy, A.; Grove, M.; O’Neil-Dunne, J. The Relationship Between Tree Canopy and Crime Rates Across an Urban-rural Gradient in the Greater Baltimore Region. Landscape and Urban Planning [Online], 2012, 106, 262-270. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/ S0169204612000977 (accessed Aug. 10, 2012).

4. City of Baltimore. Baltimore’s Cities of Service Plan. stepUP! Baltimore: Volunteers for Change. http://stepup.baltimorecity.gov/Portals/ stepUP/documents/StepUpBaltimoreFINAL.pdf (accessed Sept. 26, 2012).



References Denver (pp. 60–67) 1. City of Denver. About Denver. Facts & Info. http://www.denver.org/ metro/facts (accessed Sept. 14, 2012).

2. City of Denver. About Denver. Climate. http://www.denver.org/metro/ weather (accessed Sept. 14, 2012). 3. City of Denver. Denver Parks and Recreation. http://www.denvergov. org/parksandrecreation (accessed Sept. 14, 2012). 4. City of Denver. Community Planning and Development. Comprehensive Plan 2000. http://www.denvergov.org/Planning/ ComprehensivePlan2000/tabid/431882/Default.aspx (accessed Sept. 14, 2012). 5. City of Denver. Denver Parks and Recreation. Game Plan Chapter 1. http://www.denvergov.org/Portals/626/documents/Chap1.pdf (accessed Sept. 14, 2012).

6. City of Denver. Denver Parks and Recreation. Game Plan Chapter 3 – Part 1. http://www.denvergov.org/Portals/626/documents/Chap3_I. pdf (accessed Sept. 17, 2012).

7. Greenprint Denver. About. Download the Action Agenda. http://www. greenprintdenver.org/about/download-the-plan/ (accessed Sept. 17, 2012). 8. The Park People. Capital Projects. http://www.theparkpeople.org/ Programs/CapitalProjects.aspx (accessed Sept. 18, 2012). 9. The Park People. Community Forester Program. http://www. theparkpeople.org/Programs/CommunityForester.aspx (accessed Sept. 18, 2012). 10. NBA. Denver Nuggets. Denver Nuggets Tip Off NBA Green Week. http://www.nba.com/nuggets/community/tree_planting_ ceremony_033110.html (accessed Sept. 18, 2012).

Indianapolis (pp. 68–75) 1. State of Indiana. Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Division of Forestry. Indiana’s Street Tree Benefits Summary. http://www.in.gov/ dnr/forestry/files/fo-benefits.pdf (accessed Sept. 12, 2012). 2. City of Indianapolis. Department of Public Works. Office of Sustainability. City of Indianapolis Sustainability Report 2008-2009. http://www.indy.gov/eGov/City/DPW/SustainIndy/Sustain/Report/ Documents/Sustainability%20Report_Final1.pdf (accessed Sept. 12, 2012). 3. City of Indianapolis. Department of Public Works. Office of Sustainability. SustainIndy Fact Sheet. http://www.indy.gov/eGov/ City/DPW/SustainIndy/Documents/Sustainability%20in%20 Indianapolis.pdf (accessed Sept. 12, 2012). 4. City of Indianapolis. Department of Public Works. Office of Sustainability. Sustainable Infrastructure. http://www. indy.gov/eGov/City/DPW/SustainIndy/WaterLand/Pages/ SustainableInfrastructure.aspx (accessed Sept. 12, 2012).


Urban Forests Case Studies

5. City of Indianapolis. Department of Public Works. Urban Forestry. http://www.indy.gov/eGov/City/DPW/Residential/Pages/UrbanForestry-.aspx (accessed Sept. 12, 2012).

6. Indianapolis Parks Foundation. Indianapolis Parks Foundation Fact Sheet. http://indyparksfoundation.org/media/IPF_FactSheet_2012.pdf (accessed Sept. 12, 2012). 7. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. KIB: History, Facts and Statistics. http://www.kibi.org/history_facts_and_stats (accessed Sept. 13, 2012).

8. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. More on the NeighborWoods Effort. http://www.kibi.org/neighborwoods_more_on_the_neighborwoods_ effort (accessed Sept. 13, 2012). 9. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. Pocket Parks. http://www.kibi.org/ pocket_parks (accessed Sept. 14, 2012).

10. Emerald Ash Borer Info. http://emeraldashborer.info/ (accessed Sept. 13, 2012). 11. Purdue University Extension. Emerald Ash Borer in Indiana. EAB Management – For Neighborhood Associations. Neighbors Against Bad Bugs Quick Guide. http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/eab/pdf/ NABB_QuickGuide.pdf (accessed Sept. 13, 2012). 12. King Park Area Development Corporation. ABATe. Our Strategy. https://kpadc.org/abate/strategy.html (accessed Sept. 14, 2012).

13. Reconnecting to Our Waterways. About. http:// reconnectingtoourwaterways.org/about-2/ (accessed Sept. 14, 2012).

14. State of Indiana. Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Division of Forestry. Indiana’s Street Tree Benefits Summary. http://www.in.gov/ dnr/forestry/files/fo-benefits.pdf (accessed Sept. 12, 2012).

Atlanta (pp. 76–83) 1. Atlanta Regional Commission. ARC Region. Population & Housing Data. http://www.atlantaregional.com/info-center/arc-region/ population-housing-data (accessed Sept. 27, 2012). 2. Trees Atlanta. FAQs. Trees Atlanta History & Purpose. http:// treesatlanta.org/faqs/ (accessed Sept. 27, 2012).

3. State of Georgia. Department of Community Affairs. Planning and Environmental Management. Georgia Examples. https://www.dca. ga.gov/toolkit/ProcessExamplesSearch.asp?id=376 (accessed Sept. 27, 2012).

4. Atlanta Tree Conservation Commission. Tree Ordinance. Atlanta’s Tree Protection Ordinance: The Basics. http://www.atlantatreecommission. com/tree-ordinance/a-the-basics (accessed Sept. 27, 2012). 5. Atlanta Tree Conservation Commission. FAQs. http://www. atlantatreecommission.com/faqs (accessed Sept. 27, 2012).

6. Atlanta Tree Conservation Commission. Tree Conservation Commission Members. http://www.atlantatreecommission.com/ tree-conservation-commission/tree-commissioners (accessed Sept. 27, 2012).


7. Atlanta Tree Conservation Commission. News. The City of Atlanta Initiates First Comprehensive Downtown Public Tree Inventory. http://www.atlantatreecommission.com/news-feeds/137 (accessed Sept. 27, 2012).

8. Trees Atlanta. Contractor Tree Planting. http://www.treesatlanta.org/ ContractorTreePlanting.aspx (accessed Sept. 27, 2012).

9. Trees Atlanta. Our Programs. NeighborWoods. http://treesatlanta.org/ our-programs/neighborwoods/ (accessed Sept. 27, 2012). 10. Trees Atlanta. Volunteer. http://treesatlanta.org/volunteer/ (accessed Sept. 27, 2012).

11. Trees Atlanta. Our Programs. NeighborWoods. http://treesatlanta.org/ our-programs/neighborwoods/ (accessed Sept. 27, 2012). 12. Trees Atlanta. Our Programs. Neighborhood Arboreta. http:// treesatlanta.org/our-programs/neighborhood-arboreta/ (accessed Sept. 27, 2012).

13. Trees Atlanta. Who We Are. The Trees Atlanta Kendeda Center. http:// treesatlanta.org/who-we-are/the-kendeda-center/ (accessed Sept. 27, 2012). 14. Nalley Automotive. The Nalley Tree Campaign Project. http://www. nalleycars.com/nalley-tree-project.htm (accessed Sept. 27, 2012).

15. City of Atlanta. Mayor’s Office. Projects and Initiatives. Atlanta Cities of Service Project. Forward Together. http://www.atlantaga.gov/ modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=559 (accessed Sept. 27, 2012).

16. City of Atlanta. Mayor’s Office. Projects and Initiatives. Atlanta Cities of Service Project. http://www.atlantaga.gov/index.aspx?page=158 (accessed Sept. 27, 2012). 17. Park Pride. About Us. What We Do. Leading & Inspiring Action for Parks & Greenspace. http://www.parkpride.org/about-us/what-wedo/parkpride_brochure.pdf (accessed Sept. 27, 2012).

18. Park Pride. Get Involved. Community Programs. Adopt-a-Park. http:// www.parkpride.org/get-involved/community-programs/adopt-a-park (accessed Sept. 27, 2012). 19. Atlanta BeltLine. About. Atlanta BeltLine Overview. http://beltline. org/about/the-atlanta-beltline-project/atlanta-beltline-overview/ (accessed Sept. 27, 2012). 20. Atlanta BeltLine. About. Atlanta BeltLine Partners. http://beltline. org/about/the-atlanta-beltline-people/atlanta-beltline-partners/ (accessed Sept. 13, 2012).

21. Atlanta BeltLine. Programs. Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum. http:// beltline.org/programs/atlanta-beltline-arboretum/ (accessed Sept. 27, 2012).

Seattle (pp. 84–91) 1. The Northwest Digital Archives. Guide to the Don Sherwood Parks History Collection 1876-1979.http://nwda-db.wsulibs.wsu.edu/findaid/ ark:/80444/xv19503 (accessed Oct. 1, 2012). 2. City of Seattle. Office of Sustainability and Environment. Plans and Documents. Urban Forest Management Plan April 2007. http://www. seattle.gov/environment/documents/Final_UFMP.pdf (accessed Oct. 1, 2012).

3. The U.S. Conference of Mayors. Climate Protection Center. U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. http://www. usmayors.org/climateprotection/agreement.htm (accessed Oct. 1, 2012).

4. Barcott, B. Shades of Green. Seattle Met [Online] 2008. http://www. seattlemet.com/news-and-profiles/politics/articles/0808-nickels (accessed Oct. 1, 2012).

5. Green Seattle Partnership. 20-year Strategic Plan. http://greenseattle. org/files/gsp-20yrplan5-1-06.pdf (accessed Oct. 1, 2012). 6. Clark, J.R.; Matheny, N.P.; Cross, G.; and Wake, V. A Model of Urban Forest Sustainability. Journal of Arboriculture. 1997, 23(1), 17-30.

7. City of Seattle. Office of Sustainability and Environment. Plans and Documents. Urban Forest Management Plan April 2007. http://www. seattle.gov/environment/documents/Final_UFMP.pdf (accessed Oct. 1, 2012). 8. City of Seattle. Office of Sustainability and Environment. Plans and Documents. Urban Forest Management Plan April 2007. http://www. seattle.gov/environment/documents/Final_UFMP.pdf (accessed Oct. 1, 2012). 9. City of Seattle. Department of Transportation. Bridging the Gap. http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/BridgingtheGap.htm (accessed Oct. 1, 2012).

10. City of Seattle. Department of Transportation. Community Tree Program. http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/btg_streettrees.htm (accessed Oct. 1, 2012). 11. City of Seattle. Seattle City Light. Environment Report 2009. http:// seattle.gov/light/Environment/EnvStewRpt_02_2009.pdf (accessed Oct. 1, 2012). 12. City of Seattle. News Releases. City, State, Fed Plan Would Protect Local Waters From Pollutants. http://www.seattle.gov/news/detail. asp?ID=12784 (accessed Oct. 2, 2012).

13. City of Seattle. Seattle Public Utilities. Services. Sewage Overflow Prevention. Combined Sewer Overflow Program 2010 CSO Reduction Plan Amendment. http://www.seattle.gov/util/groups/public/@ spu/@usm/documents/webcontent/02_008056.pdf (accessed Oct. 2, 2012). 14. City of Seattle. Seattle Public Utilities. Services. Ballard Roadside Raingardens. http://www.seattle.gov/util/Services/Drainage_&_ Sewer/Keep_Water_Safe_&_Clean/CSO/CSOReductionProjects/ BallardBasin/BallardRoadsideRaingardens/index.htm (accessed Oct. 2, 2012).

15. City of Seattle. Seattle Public Utilities. About SPU. Drainage & Sewer System. Residential RainWise Program. http://www. seattle.gov/util/About_SPU/Drainage_&_Sewer_System/ GreenStormwaterInfrastructure/ResidentialRainwiseProgram/index. htm (accessed Oct. 2, 2012).

16. City of Seattle. Department of Planning and Development. Planning. Tree Regulations Update. http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/planning/ SeattlesTreeRegulationUpdate/Overview/default.asp (accessed Oct. 2, 2012).



References Detroit (pp. 92–99)


1. MGM Grand Detroit. Local Press Releases. MGM Grand Detroit, The Greening of Detroit and Local Community Leaders Break Ground for $1 Million Urban Greenhouse and Garden. http://www. mgmgranddetroit.com/press-room/press-releases-template. aspx?ID=1020 (accessed Sept. 17, 2012).

1. United States Department of Agriculture. Natural Resources Conservation Service. Montana 2007. Bioswales. ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov. usda.gov/MT/www/technical/water/Bioswale.pdf (accessed Oct. 12, 2012).

3. The Greening of Detroit. Who We Are. http://greeningofdetroit.com/ who-we-are/ (accessed Sept. 2, 2012).

3. United States Geological Survey. Geographic Information Systems. http://egsc.usgs.gov/isb/pubs/gis_poster/ (accessed Oct. 18, 2012).

2. The Greening of Detroit. Who We Are. http://greeningofdetroit.com/ who-we-are/ (accessed Sept. 2, 2012).

2. United States Environmental Protection Agency. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. Combined Sewer Overflows. http:// cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=5 (accessed Oct. 12, 2012).

4. Southwest Housing Solutions. Green Jobs Training Program Gets $858,000 in Federal Funds to Continue Its Exemplary Work. http:// www.swsol.org/articles/JFF_grant (accessed Sept. 11, 2012).

4. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Water: Green Infrastructure. Green Infrastructure Basics. http://water.epa.gov/ infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/index.cfm (accessed Oct. 12, 2012).

5. Anstett, P. Greening of Detroit “We Like to Say We Plant Peas to Trees.” Detroit Free Press [Online] 2010. http://www.freep.com/ article/20100418/GREEN01/4180448/Greening-of-Detroit (accessed Sept. 17, 2012).

6. Natural Resources Defense Council. Water. Rooftops to Rivers II. http:// www.nrdc.org/water/pollution/rooftopsii/files/rooftopstoriversII.pdf (accessed Sept. 17, 2012). 7.

Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. Green Infrastructure. http://www.semcog.org/GreenInfrastructure.aspx (accessed Sept. 10, 2012).

8. Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. Greenways Initiative. A Vision of Greenways for the Greater Riverfront East District of Detroit. http://cfsem.org/sites/cfsem.org/files/5d-detroitgreenwaysplan_east_detroit-2012.pdf (accessed Sept. 17, 2012).

9. Spangler, T. Link Detroit Project Gets $10 Million to Improve Routes for Bicyclists, Pedestrians. Detroit Free Press [Online] 2012. http://www. freep.com/article/20120622/NEWS05/120622028/Link-Detroit-Projectawarded-10-million-to-improve-roadways-for-bicyclists-pedestrians (accessed Sept. 17, 2012). 10. City of Detroit. Department of Public Works. Link Detroit: A MultiModal Enhancement Plan TIGER Discretionary Grant Application. http://www.detroitmi.gov/Portals/0/docs/publicworks/Tiger%20 Grant/Link%20Detroit%202012%20Grant%20Application.pdf (accessed Sept. 17, 2012).

Additional facts, figures or information contained within each case study were gathered from conversations and correspondence with the individuals referenced in each study.


Urban Forests Case Studies

5. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Heat Island Effect. Heat Island Mitigation. Green Roofs. http://www.epa.gov/hiri/ mitigation/greenroofs.htm (accessed Oct. 18, 2012).

6. Merriam-Webster: An Encyclopaedia Britannica Company. Greenway. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/greenway (accessed Oct. 18, 2012). 7. Alliance for Community Trees. National NeighborWoods Month. http://neighborwoodsmonth.org/ (accessed Oct. 18, 2012).

8. Merriam-Webster: An Encyclopaedia Britannica Company. Ordinance. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ordinance (accessed Oct. 18, 2012). 9. Right-of-way. The Dictionary of Forestry. The Society of American Foresters: Bethesda, 1998; p 155.

10. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Heat Island Effect. http://www.epa.gov/hiri/ (accessed Oct. 18, 2012).

11. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Water. Watersheds. http://water.epa.gov/type/watersheds/index.cfm (accessed Oct. 18, 2012).

About American Forests

American Forests restores and protects urban and rural forests. Founded in 1875, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the country has served as a catalyst for many of the most important milestones in the conservation movement, including the founding of the U.S. Forest Service, the national forest and national park systems and literally thousands of forest ecosystem restoration projects and public education efforts. American Forests officially launched its urban forestry program in 1982, although the organization had been supporting urban forestry efforts for decades. Over the years, American Forests has sponsored conferences on urban forestry, created an early urban forest analysis tool, CITYgreen, and advocated on behalf of urban forest legislation and support. American Forests is committed to raising awareness about the vital benefits urban forests provide and the science-based tools that are out there to best assess those benefits. The organization is committed to offering a national perspective on what cities across the country are doing to improve their urban forests and offering tools and resources to help cities better understand and speak up for their urban forests. For more information on American Forests Urban Forests Program, visit www.americanforests.org/urbanforests


This publication was developed by American Forests through grant funding from Urban and Community Forestry, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Michelle Werts

project lead and principal author Director, Communications and Marketing, American Forests

April Reese

contributing writer and researcher Freelance writer, master’s degree, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Lea Sloan

contributing editor Vice President, Communications and Marketing, American Forests

Susan Laszewski

contributing editor Manager, Communications and Marketing, American Forests

Melinda Housholder

project supervisor Director, Urban Forests Program, American Forests

Sheri Shannon

layout and design editor Manager, Communications and Marketing, American Forests

Rebecca Turner

contributing editor Senior Director, Public Policy, American Forests

Design Lab 360

design and layout

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