By Alix Bryan
Richmond, VA (June 8, 2011)- Remember how the Lorax spoke for the trees because the trees had no tongues? Well, in our city, Urban Forestry and the Richmond Tree Stewards speak, organize, and volunteer on behalf of the trees- especially the newly planted ones.
That includes the 2,400 baby trees that were just planted in the past two years. Last year the city planted 400 trees, but this year the administration of Mayor Dwight Jones more than quadrupled an increase in annual tree planting to 2,000 trees.
The Tree Stewards are calling for people to “step up to the tree,” by taking care of a tree in their neighborhood. Louise Seals, Arbor Day chair at the Tree Stewards, recommends subscribing to the email list to receive alerts and information that they post as the summer grows hotter and drier. The website features prepared tips on how and when to water. John Chupek asks if I’ve ever heard that saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, it is applicable here,” says Chupek, the operations manager of the City of Richmond Urban Forestry Division.
Last year the city lost 18 percent of the trees that were planted. The city receives a one-year warranty with purchase. A warranty means that the contractor can simply replace a dead tree, honoring the contract but that practice is not ultimately beneficial to the city. “Young trees need to become established, yes, one year is very important but after that we are dependent on city resources and citizenry,” say Chupek, who emphasizes the importance of second year maintenance as well.
A study done in 2009 shows a $1.36 return (city trees cost $2.09) for every invested dollar, says Chupek. Trees not only beautify and provide shade, they also reduce CO2 emissions and storm-water runoff, provide windbreaks (in the winter), and keep the city cooler in the summer. “Trees are important to our city environment. Anything we can do to help them survive is beneficial to the urban forest, and it is beneficial to all of us,” says Chupek.
The city also offers an ‘Adopt A Tree’ program. Citizens make a $50 investment and sign an agreement to water and maintain the tree for two-years. Seals points out that the EnRichmond foundation purchased 500 “ooze tubes” for slow-release watering to help the city take care of new trees. Mike Mathers, an Urban Forestry employee, says there are “about 80 left.” You can request one by calling Mike at 646-6784.
Did you know a young tree needs 15 gallons of water, per watering, poured slowly? Me either. That’s why it’s nice to have some people speaking for the trees around here, and hopefully more people will step forward to help. Since hiring more urban foresters for tree maintenance does not seem to be in the budget. Oh, and make sure to check out ‘Metro Area Watering Alerts’, on the Tree Steward’s website.
Richmond.com- How Long Does It Take for 2,000 Trees To Die?
Richmond Tree Stewards