Dallas-area tree-planting efforts have only just begun

By Ian McCann
Dallas, TX (February 16, 2011)- Two Texas Trees Foundation initiatives in the past year have brought thousands of new trees to North Texas. While those have just barely taken root, the organization’s leaders want to add millions more over the next decade.

“The projects and programs help to create community,” said Janette Monear, president and chief executive of the Texas Trees Foundation. “It’s the environment, it’s the economy, it’s the social.” Every new tree, she said, will cut into the region’s pollution. People will buy trees at local businesses or get them from city or nonprofit tree farms. Planting will bring people together, whether in large-scale volunteer projects or as a family.
Tree North Texas will build on two programs. Super Grow XLV united Super Bowl XLV host cities in a regional tree-planting effort, while Tree The Town, a Richardson program, has combined resources of businesses, the city and individual volunteers. Monear said the initial goal is 3 million trees over a decade, but that could increase as individual cities set goals and foundation staff members review plans. It’s difficult to determine how much those millions of trees will add to the overall canopy in the Dallas area because no comprehensive region-wide surveys have been done. Several cities have already signed on to the program, which is expected to formally launch around late March.
Every city’s needs and goals will be different, Monear said. Some are already full of mature trees, but many of those will have to be replaced because they are nearing the end of their lifespan. Some will focus on trail and road projects, while others will see trees at new businesses and homes. Mesquite, for instance, is proposing a 10,000-tree goal. That’s half of what the city planted during its last major push, in the 1990s. Potential locations include along major road projects, along hike and bike trails and in some private housing developments. Cliff Keheley, Mesquite’s parks and recreation director, said public tree-planting efforts are worthwhile.
“We developed some tree farms. We started sapling giveaways,” he said of the program in the 1990s. “Ten and 20 years later, we’ve got a much more heavily forested city.” Murphy officials have also tentatively agreed to sign on, and Richardson council member Amir Omar is making the rounds to cities throughout the region to sell the program. Omar helped to launch Richardson’s program, which despite some early stumbles has largely been successful. Some of the first trees planted were not properly anchored to stand up to the wind, while others withered at least temporarily in the summer heat.
The cost of planting trees is also going up, as city officials have realized that they need to install irrigation in street medians for trees. While many trees that will be included in the regional goal have already been planned or are required to be planted by city codes, joining with a larger initiative can serve a purpose, city officials said. A big factor is education. The foundation provides information about where best to plant trees and what kind to use, as well as about the environmental effects of trees.
Related Resources:
The Dallas Morning News- Dallas-area tree-planting efforts have only just begun
Texas Trees Foundation