Street Tree and City Parks

(Shreveport, LA) Shreveport Green’s NeighborWoods-supported Street Tree and City Parks Projects are a collaboration of neighbors and public officials dedicated to reforesting city greenspaces. Through service learning experiences, Shreveport Green is creating a corps of engaged youth and adults to advocate and educate at the community level. These citizens will become tree stewards who can continue to spread the word on the benefits of trees.


Category: Volunteer Training
Overview
Despite Shreveport’s location in a wooded part of the state, many community members are unaware of the benefits and value of a good tree canopy. Compounded by sustained tornado and ice storm damage over the last four years, and severe droughts during the summers of 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2005, many of the neighborhoods are practically devoid of trees.
A CityGreen canopy analysis showed portions of the Martin Luther King (MLK), Allendale, and Queensborough neighborhoods to be particularly lacking in canopy cover. The MLK neighborhood has only a 10% cover. These three at-risk neighborhoods that lost 216 trees in the recent tornados comprised Shreveport Green’s major reforestation efforts in 2006. The regreening visually enhanced the streets and addressed health, societal, and economic issues.
Background
The 2006 targeted neighborhoods exhibited moderate to severe crime rates and a decided lack of community. By increasing the canopy cover, Shreveport Green offered the residents a cooler and more attractive environment, thus encouraging them to mingle outside and interact with their neighbors, as well as enjoying all of the benefits that a good tree canopy can offer. The targeted areas were:
* Allendale Area: 1600 Block of Weinstock, 1500 Block of Clay, Rotary Park
* Martin Luther King Area: 1400 Block of Martin Luther King Drive 71107, 1000 Block of Phelps, Green Oaks High School, 2550 Thomas, 71107
* Queensborough, 3800 Block of Judson, 71109, Fair Park High School, 3222 Greenwood, 71109
* Forest Hills Elementary, 2005 Francais Dr., 71118, Betty Virginia Park, 71106
Shreveport Green’s vision for the city is a clean, green, physically enhanced community whose citizens exhibit a strong sense of pride and concern about the environment, because an attractive city promotes respect and economic development. Among their highlights and awards include:
* Planted over 20,000 trees
* Reduced litter as measured by the Litter Index Score of 1.8
* Cost benefit to the City of Shreveport – $7.28 for every $1.00
* Tree City USA Growth Award in 1998
* National Tree Trust Branching Out Award in 2000
Shreveport Green is a viable nonprofit with a large support system that includes good relationships with the city and community partners. Their Growing Out Station produces trees for small projects, the volunteer base is loyal and increasing, and an annual funding campaign brings in about $35,000 from individuals. City, federal, and private grants and contracts along with project sponsorships provide additional resources.
One of the ways in which Shreveport Green is able to build broad awareness and recruit loyal volunteers is by “forcing the audience” to understand the thoughtful, proper process of the right tree in the right place. The first tool in this is to perform an inventory of all areas in advance of planting. This ensures that neighbors will be a part of the restoration of their community.
Schools in the area are also a good link to motivating the community. Tree plantings can be the “hands on” portion of an educational program centered on trees. Volunteers are trained through “hands on” experience and education about the benefits and maintenance requirements of trees.
Components
Street Tree Project: Youth corps of volunteers train with an urban forester, receive the necessary tools, then count, measure, identify, and evaluate street trees. They also helped solicit the citizens to attend forestry workshops.
City Parks: Through regular meeting with city officials, Shreveport Green advises this group about youth volunteers, tree inventory, and selecting the right tree species.
HUD Trees for New Homeowners: Mature trees and planting advice are given away in January and April to residents of underserved neighborhoods who agree to maintain them.
Shreveport Green works with many partners including:
ShrevCORPS. A corps of 12 youth leaders from surrounding neighborhoods and schools. They conduct tree surveys, organize community members, and plant trees. The program is conducted during the school year, in partnership with the school system.
Department of Community Development on Model Block Programs. Shreveport Green assists this city agency by landscaping, planting trees, and education citizens at Model Block Program projects.
Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). HUD identifies and informs participants from their program about the importance of urban forestry and programs like Shreveport Green’s that grant free trees. HUD employees also assist with tree distributions.
Shreveport-Bossier Community Renewal. This organization has their finger on the pulse of many Shreveport neighborhoods, and assists with community outreach, planting, and monitoring the health of trees.
U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu. Contacted Shreveport Green about promoting SmartGrowth in Allendale and neighborhoods directly adjacent to downtown Shreveport.
Results
* Increased the tree canopy in 3 at-risk neighborhoods (10 specific blocks), 2 parks, and 4 schools by the planting of 200 10-gallon and 100 15-gallon trees.
* Increased the tree knowledge of 48 youth through service learning.
* Increased the tree knowledge of 250 citizens directly through presentations and actual hands-on experience.
* Achieve a first year survival rate of 80% of all trees planted.
Lessons Learned
1. Administer pre and post planting surveys to accurately determine successes.
2. Work closely with a community group who can take the lead in outreach, planting, and monitoring.
3. Maintain a volunteer log to capture their contributions and follow-up with them for future projects and fundraising.
Contact Information:
Donna Curtis
Executive Director
Shreveport Green
3625 Southern Avenue
Shreveport, LA 71106
Phone: 318-219-1888
Fax: 318-219-1882