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Grant Will Help District Grow Greener Tree Canopy

Friday, February 6, 2009

Washington, DC - The District of Columbia and four state partners have been awarded a federal grant to identify new urban locations for tree planting.  The total award from the USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry is $823,245 for the District and Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The grant will fund a project developed in a collaborative effort by the District Department of Transportation’s Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) and the four state partners.  They will assess the current urban tree canopy (UTC) in the District and 13 other communities using common methods, set goals to enhance the present canopy, and develop a strategy to implement those goals.  The urban tree canopy is the layer of leaves, branches, and stems of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above. 

This project will allow UFA to make the most of the District’s limited public planting space and identify new, unique and non-traditional planting sites.

“The benefit to District residents will be a greener city.” said John Thomas, DDOT’s Chief Forester.  “We will gain more trees and enjoy other environmental benefits as well such as reduced stormwater runoff, reduced energy consumption and cleaner water.”

The grant has four phases:

  • Phase 1: Urban Tree Canopy Tool Development and Assessment: Working with USDA Forest Service Research and the University of Vermont Spatial Analysis the grant partners will develop and document standardized UTC spatial decision assessment tools.  Using the data from the study, individual communities will test these tools and conduct the assessments. 
  • Phase 2: Urban Tree Canopy Goal Setting: Working with new and existing UTC communities (District of Columbia, Boston, Burlington, Vermont and Providence, Rhode Island) the grant partners will use the assessment results to set urban tree canopy goals that will conserve, protect and enhance urban tree canopies within each community.
  • Phase 3: Urban Tree Canopy Implementation Practices: The grant partners will work with each community to deploy locally led activities to begin tree plantings.
  • Phase 4: Urban Tree Canopy Replication: Grant partners will report on their findings and begin to train other communities that are interested in developing urban tree canopy goals. 

The mission of DDOT’s Urban Forestry Administration is to establish a full population of street trees within the District and to ensure that those street trees are maintained in a healthy and safe condition.  UFA has 16 certified arborists on staff that care for approximately 140,000 trees throughout the city.