(Salt Lake City, UT) TreeUtah’s NeighborWoods-supported MetroGreening Program promotes tree planting in a tender water climate by involving a broad spectrum of Metro Area developers, corporations, civic leaders, neighborhood organizations and residents in waterwise planting and education projects.

Category: Community Development
In the Salt Lake Metropolitan Area, population pressures have created grave problems such as air and water pollution, heat island generation, wildlife habitat destruction and farmland loss. Utah is an arid state with an annual average rainfall of only 12″ (compared with an annual average rainfall of 48″ in Atlanta, for example). 2004 also marked the sixth consecutive year of drought throughout the state.
TreeUtah staff developed many initiatives to proactively mitigate these troubling trends including:
* Ecological Restoration Program which engages thousands of volunteers annually in planting native species of trees and shrubs in riparian and mountain habitats;
* Statewide Community and Urban Forestry Program which brings cutting-edge urban forestry management information to and spurs volunteer-powered planting projects in rural and outlying communities around the state;
* YounGrowth which involves young people from grade school to university-age in a variety of educational and planting programs reconnecting them to the natural world and helping them make a positive difference in the environmental quality of their own communities; and
* MetroGreening Program which concentrates on promoting waterwise tree planting and green space projects in urban areas in partnership with a broad spectrum of metro area developers, corporations, civic leaders, neighborhood organizations and residents.
This success story is about the MetroGreening Program.
Since 1989, TreeUtah has been improving Utah’s quality of life by enhancing the environment for present and future generations through planting, stewardship, and education. TreeUtah provides educational workshops to anyone who asks, but we give priority to underserved communities. Properly placed, planted, and cared trees provide many benefits which directly contribute to stronger, healthier, more sustainable and revitalized communities. For example:
* Neighborhoods with trees have significantly lower crime rates than barren neighborhoods.
* Trees help reduce energy consumption, heating, and cooling costs.
* Trees increase property values.
* Residents are more invested and get more involved in neighborhoods with trees.
* Trees, shrubs, and other plants produce a psychologically calming effect.
* Trees provide buffers to urban noise pollution such as traffic and machinery.
* Trees retain ground water, lessening the amount needed for lawns.
* Trees counteract air pollution by cleaning the air.
As part of the 2005-06 National Neighborwoods Initiatives, TreeUtah’s MetroGreening staff planned projects with five major partners around the Metro Area. These included:
1. The Modesto Park KaBoom! Playground Planting Project-TreeUtah coordinated a clean-up, mulching and planting event in conjunction with Bend-in-the-River Urban Green Space staff, KaBoom!, Operation Weed and Seed Staff, University of Utah Bennion Service Center volunteers, Salt Lake Community College Thayne Service Center Volunteers, Parkview Public Elementary School families, students, staff and family members from McGillis Private School, students from Judge Memorial Private High School and nearby Glendale neighborhood residents on Saturday, October 22, 2005. Over 120 people showed up to participate in the event.
2. The Onequa Corners Redevelopment Xeriscaping and Tree Planting Project-TreeUtah staff and board member Stephanie Duer worked in partnership with Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) staff to plan the waterwise landscaping in front of the new NHS neighborhood redevelopment project. The landscaping plan was finalized in 2004. The drip watering system and plantings were put in place September through October 2005. TreeUtah staff then coordinated a mulching project at the site in conjunction with staff and young people from NHS’at-risk youth program called YouthWorks on November 2, 2005.
3. The Wolstenholme Development Waterwise Planting Project-In partnership with Habitat for Humanity, TreeUtah staff offered a tree planting and tree care workshop to the home-recipients of this 16 unit Habitat development in Magna,Utah, on October 22, 2005. TreeUtah also provided a drought-tolerant tree for every house in the development. Home-recipients, community volunteers and Habitat staff planted these trees under the direction of TreeUtah staff after completing the educational workshop.
4. The Permaculture Demonstration Project-In cooperation with community partners such as Wasatch Community Gardens, Salt Lake City Department of Parks and Recreation, the University of Utah Environmental Studies Program and the TreeUtah-led Permaculture Discussion Group, TreeUtah staff are developing a permanent permaculture demonstration site which will introduce Wasatch Front residents to this intensive, sustainable, multi-tiered, green space-use strategy. The area will be used to conduct educational workshops concerning site evaluation, landscape design, soil preparation, water catchment, natural weed and pest prevention and proper plant selection.
5. Finally, in collaboration with Henry Lucke (Northern Utah Home Depot Nursery Captain), the 21st South Home Depot (store# 4403), and the Lindon Home Depot (store# 4407), TreeUtah will provide a three-hour Tree Care Workshop training for Home Depot nursery department staff. The focus of the workshop is to develop associates who can give customers better advice about tree species, planting, and care options. TreeUtah identified an opportunity to impact more people with high quality technical information by adopting a ‘train the trainer’ approach focused on high-traffic garden centers. The approach was piloted with area stores of The Home Depot. Garden center employees are in a position to deliver accurate planning, planting and aftercare information to thousands upon thousands of people each year. We also were informed by Home Depot employees that their own computerized nursery department training module was too time intensive (16 hours) to be able to be taken advantage of by most nursery employees. Mr. Lucke is working with TreeUtah staff to get at least one nursery supervisor from each Northern Utah Home Depot store to attend TreeUtah’s special workshop.
These MetroGreening Projects demonstrate how trees and education can positively impact grave community problems, but we could not carry on our important work without partnerships and volunteers. TreeUtah’s initiatives foster partnerships among neighborhood residents, community leaders, civic officials, public and private schools, youth groups, federal, state and local government agencies, social service providers, business owners, and other nonprofit organizations. TreeUtah would like to recognize the Home Depot Foundation and the Alliance for Community Trees for becoming important partners in promoting smart urban forestry and community development projects in the Salt Lake City Metropolitan Area.
* Planted 77 new trees and maintained an additional 203 trees.
* Hosted 77 training, planting, or maintenance sessions with community members.
* Engaged 780 volunteers for 1,613 contributed service hours.
Lessons Learned
1. Get the media involved. Plan ahead early and frame the story for them. Be persistent.
2. Locate the most relevant community partners, and make sure they’re on board.
3. Recognize all volunteers, funders, and partners for their support. People liked to noticed.
Contact Information:
Jeff Ward
Executive Director
511 W. 200 S, Suite 150
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Phone: 801-364-2122
Fax: 801-364-6889