By Susan Schrock
Arlington, TX (March 28, 2009)- Increasing Arlington’s tree canopy could bring a different type of green to the city: more federal grant funding and savings to the taxpayers through energy cost reductions and storm-water mitigation. The Parks and Recreation Department is about to launch a count of city-owned trees in parks, golf courses, medians and other public property. Volunteers and city forester Matt Churches will collect information about the species, health and location of each tree.
The U.S. Forest Service will analyze the data for free to determine what the city’s urban forest is doing for the environment and where improvements to the canopy could be made to address air quality, erosion and other issues. “If we can show areas of need and say we’ve got proof this area is environmentally inferior due to the lack of trees, we will be able to qualify for more grants,” Churches said.
For the project, the city is using $11,000 in equipment, including a $5,000 hand-held computer to map the tree locations, Churches said. The project is expected to be complete in about six months, depending on how many volunteers sign up, he said.
The data will also be used to determine:
* Where to plant trees to provide shade to municipal buildings, which could reduce energy costs.
* Which trees are diseased or damaged and need to be removed or pruned to prevent safety hazards.
* Which trees are mature enough to no longer need irrigation, which will save the city money.
* Where trees could be planted to slow erosion and storm-water runoff to help prevent flooding in neighborhoods.
* Which areas with higher concentrations of air pollution could benefit from additional trees to help capture carbon dioxide.
The effort is part of Arlington’s efforts to expand its tree canopy. The city launched a program in 2007 to add more trees to neighborhoods, schools, parks and businesses. Thousands of trees have been given to property owners through the Let’s Enhance Arlington’s Forest program.
Arlington Star Telegram- Arlington needs you to help count its trees
Green Arlington Foundation