Volunteer Mobilization: Casey Trees
(Washington, DC)- Casey Trees works with the District of Columbia’s Urban Forestry Administration to water newly planted street trees with Ooze Tubes®. Utilizing an extensive tree inventory and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping, Casey Trees has created an efficient method for mobilizing volunteers to install Ooze Tubes to water trees during the summer.
Planting trees is just the beginning. Small trees generally require 10 gallons of water upon planting and every week thereafter, and large trees may require 20 gallons or more per week for optimum health. Depending on weather conditions, tree species and location, these figures can significantly increase. Ensuring that trees receive adequate water is labor intensive and is complicated by water shortages and drought conditions in many areas throughout the country.
Several organizations in the Alliance for Community Trees network have developed creative methods both for providing an efficient labor force and for stretching the water supply through conservation and recycling. Three examples follow.
Since its inception in 2001, Casey Trees has worked with volunteers and community groups to plant 4,500 trees towards its goal of restoring the tree canopy in Washington, DC. From the start, Casey Trees knew maintaining those trees would be a challenge.
In 2008, following a regional drought in 2007, Casey Trees developed a program with the District of Columbia’s Urban Forestry Administration (UFA), which plants and regulates street trees, to water newly planted street trees with Ooze Tubes®. The patented system is engineered for trees in under-irrigated sites. Trees planted by either group are eligible for the program.
In this program volunteers install, fill, and monitor Ooze Tubes® on newly planted trees from June until leaf drop. Volunteers provide the needed water.
Ooze Tubes® were chosen because they deliver the water to the trees slowly and efficiently, using drip irrigation principles. Also, the donut-shaped watering bag protects the space around the tree trunk, a vital concern for urban street trees.
An important factor in the program’s success has been the ability to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to pinpoint trees in need and to efficiently coordinate volunteer efforts.
In 2002 Casey Trees conducted a GIS tree inventory of 131,000 tree spaces and 106,000 trees in DC. This data was then provided to UFA. This data base is an important tool in this watering program. It allows Casey Trees to print maps for volunteers pinpointing the location of trees needing water. Also, the data base identifies when the trees were planted and by which organization.
Both organizations market the program and Casey Trees coordinates and trains the volunteers, tapping into its pool of more than 500 trained Citizen Foresters. In addition, Casey Trees has an instructional video on its website, www.caseytrees.org, illustrating how to install Ooze Tubes®.
During the first two months of this partnership, 98 volunteers have installed 917 Ooze Tubes®.
1. A GIS-mapped inventory allows an organization to track which trees need water and mobilize volunteers. Using GIS maps, volunteers can reach more trees in less time.
2. In most jurisdictions, the local government does not have funds for tree maintenance. Developing partnerships with local government to ensure tree care can be a win-win for your organization and the local government.
3. Summer watering programs can be an excellent way of keeping your volunteers engaged throughout the year — not just during planting months.
4. Placing the logos of participating organizations on the Ooze Tubes® provides publicity for the program and for the organizations. Ooze Tubes® on street trees in this program have Casey Trees and UFA logos.
5. Interest in the watering program may vary from year to year based on the climatic conditions. Casey Trees and UFA developed this program following the drought of summer 2007. In 2008, when the program was ready, it was unusually wet.
Mike Galvin, Deputy Director
1425 K Street, N.W., Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20005