Greening Melrose East

(Baton Rouge, LA) Baton Rouge Green’s NeighborWoods-supported Greening Melrose East project reforested five streets in the subdivision suggested by neighborhood residents.

Category: Community Development
In collaboration with Melrose East Community Development Corporation and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Baton Rouge Green conducted an ecological assessment of the Melrose East neighborhood in 2004. The assessment revealed several green infrastructure deficiencies:
1. 3% tree canopy cover in Melrose East. 2. Non-native, short-lived tree species are not appropriate to restore the native ecological character of the neighborhood or provide maximum economic and ecological benefits. 3. Existing shade trees declining due to age and lack of proper tree care and maintenance. 4. Neighborhood business owners and residents lack environmental and arboricultural education, and a sustained collaborative effort to empower, motivate, and organize residents, young and old, to restore and care for trees in the underinvested neighborhood. Background
The environment is the next logical revitalization to further enhance the quality of life, living conditions, and community morale already underway in the businesses and apartment complexes in Melrose East. Baton Rouge Green accomplished this by organizing “Service Saturday” tree planting events and “Tree Trooper” training sessions. Tree Troopers are community volunteers who pledge to maintain the trees for two years and replace those that do not survive.
Founded in 1987, Baton Rouge Green’s goals have been to help Baton Rouge area citizens better understand, preserve, plant & maintain trees & forests as an important community resource. During its 15 years, BRG has accomplished the following:
* Helped develop Baton Rouge’s first landscape & tree ordinance in 1991.
* Represented the citizens through representation on the EBR Tree & Landscape Commission.
* Developed & distributed an ecology-based, native tree planting guide for EBR Parish.
* Worked with EBR school officials to improve tree care on 115 campuses.
* Planted more than 30,000 trees along roadways, on school campuses & in parks & neighborhoods.
* Provided educational, planting, preservation & conservation projects valued at more than $5.2 million.
* Trained over 500 teachers in Project Learning Tree, a national environmental curriculum.
* Developed tree nurseries to grow a more diverse array of native trees.
Execution of the plan to reforest the streets of Melrose East involved many aspect including scheduling and planning monthly organizational meetings, developing a tree planting plan, securing permits from City/Parish Office of Landscape & Forestry, purchasing & delivering trees and materials, preparing site for plantings, facilitating Tree Trooper classes with lessons and guest speakers, scheduling for underground utilities to be marked, supervising volunteers, providing technical support for ongoing tree care & maintenance, providing replacement trees, implementing a media campaign, fiscal management, and compiling project reports.
On this project, Baton Rouge Green had many partners. They included:
* Melrose East Community Development Corporation networked with the neighborhood business community, service organizations and residents to participate in project planning, tree planting plan ideas, developing & disseminating project correspondence to neighborhood, tracking community volunteer hours, identifying block captains, identifying holding stations for project materials for “Service Saturday” events, providing facility for “Tree Trooper” training sessions, assisting with media campaign, and providing all supporting documents for project reports.
* Phoenix Person Care Services engaged handicapped adult clients (identified through residency program) in the project through tree planting events, “Tree Trooper” program, on-going tree care and maintenance, and tracking organizational volunteer hours and providing all supporting documents for project reports.
* Greater Love Missionary Baptist Church appointed an agency representative to turn out community residents and supervise volunteer tree plantings.
* Planted and maintaining 218 new mature trees through 7 planting events.
* Hosted 4 Tree Trooper training workshops.
* Engaged 247 volunteers for 835 contributed hours.
Lessons Learned
1. Educate business owners, residents, and youth about the benefits of native trees. By empowering and motivating the local stakeholders, the value of trees is better understood, trees are better cared for, and revitalization of the neighborhood continues.
2. Maintain the unique native ecological character of the neighborhood through appropriate tree selection and planting.
3. Pre-dig holes with contractors. This makes the volunteer experience more educational and fun rather than labor intensive due to compacted urban soils.
4. Execute hands-on training of Melrose East business owners, residents, and youth in best tree care and maintenance practices.
5. Partner with your local The Home Depot store. Coursey Boulevard Human Resource Director, Alberta Robertson, identified volunteers from five local stores to help pull of this project.
Contact Information:
Diane Losavio
Executive Director
Baton Rouge Green
448 N. 11th Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
Phone: 225-381-0037
Fax: 225-387-3887