Trees for Shade Program

(Tucson, AZ)- Through the Trees for Shade Program, area residents can receive up to two trees if they agree to plant them where they will shade windows and walls of their houses.



Category: Partnership Building
OVERVIEW
This program enables customers to beautify their yards and reduce utility bills while assisting the utility to meet regulatory requirements, receive positive publicity and contribute to the environment in a desert climate. Each year Trees for Tucson distributes about 3,500 trees through this program.
BACKGROUND
Established in 1989 as a program of Tucson Clean & Beautiful, a nonprofit environmental organization, Trees for Tucson is a grassroots urban forestry program which encourages and facilitates tree planting in the Tucson metropolitan area using desert-adapted, low-water-use trees such as mesquite and desert willow. Its goal is to provide a “cleaner, cooler, more enjoyable environment for all.”
In 1993, Trees for Tucson submitted a proposal to Tucson Electric Power Company requesting funding for the purchase and distribution of trees to TEP customers who were willing to plant them in areas surrounding their homes where they would provide shade when they matured. TFT’s presentation illustrated how this program would help TEP meet the requirements of demand/supply management mandated by the Arizona Corporation Commission as well as benefiting the entire community. A TFT board member who was a TEP employee arranged a meeting with the utility, making sure that the decision-makers were at the table. TEP has funded the program for the last 12 years.
Trees for Tucson also offers a number of other programs including:
* tree-related activities at local schools
* commemorative-tree-planting park projects
* matching funds for residents who want to plant street trees
* tree tours
* tree care workshops and
* a neighborhood forester program to train volunteers how to plant and care for trees.
COMPONENTS
Eligibility and application process
Under the Trees for Shade program, local residents who are TEP customers are eligible to receive up to two five gallon-sized trees if they agree to plant them where they will shade windows and walls of their houses when the tree matures. TFT provides and delivers the trees, but it does not do the planting. TFT distributes planting and maintenance instructions upon delivery.
Applications are available through community organizations, libraries, and certain government offices as well as on the Trees for Tucson website. Forms are changed twice a year to reflect available tree choices.
Applicants are required to complete a sketch indicating where the trees will be planted and to submit a payment of $5 per tree. In addition, applicants agree to hold Trees for Tucson and TEP harmless from all liability associated with the trees or tree planting.
Both groups and individuals may submit applications. A group application, which has its own form, requires a designated neighborhood coordinator who will compile a request for at least 10 trees (two per residence). A central delivery location is determined later by TFT staff.
Trees for Tucson processes applications on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the forms and payments are entered in a database, TFT staff sets up a delivery schedule. Trees are typically delivered once a month for about 10 months of the year (September-June). TFT reserves the right to inspect the planting and does so on a spot check basis.
Depending on availability, residents can apply for the program more than once.
Marketing
When the program began, TFT held a press conference announcing the program and TEP’s contribution. Since Trees for Shade has now been in successful operation for 12 years, TFT does not need to undertake any major marketing effort for the program. Word-of-mouth attracts a large number of applicants. TFT does send announcements each planting season to neighborhood associations as well as to local libraries and political offices. Local media often cover the program.
TFT uses a GIS mapping program provided by a board member to track where trees have been distributed. As a result, it is able to determine what areas have not been served. If an area has not used the program, TFT contacts the local ward office as well as the neighborhood association to let them know about the program. In addition, since there is a large Hispanic population in the area, TFT provides information on the program in Spanish and has a bilingual person on staff.
RESULTS
Since the program began in 1993, more than 40,000 trees have been distributed through the Trees for Shade program.
LESSONS LEARNED
1. When developing a proposal to a local utility, be sure to emphasize how the utility company will benefit from the program, including how you will publicize their contribution, how the community will be served and how this will assist the company in meeting the requirements of its regulators.
2. Follow through on providing regular and visible publicity for the utility company with the general community and with local politicians.
3. Include in your proposal as much specific data as possible on how trees reduce energy costs and how they lead to carbon dioxide reduction. Trees for Tucson found research conducted by E. Gregory McPherson of the Center for Urban Forestry Research, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Center, particularly useful.
4. Before presenting your proposal, find out who the key decision-makers are in the utility. Trees for Tucson had a board member who was able to assist them in making sure that its proposal went to the “right” individuals in the company.
5. Be vigilant in exercising quality control when dealing with nurseries. Trees for Tucson works with several nurseries in the area, choosing only those who provide the healthiest trees.
6. Track where you have distributed the trees. This allows you to know which areas have not been served and where you might want to concentrate your marketing efforts. Trees for Tucson uses a GIS mapping service provided by a board member.
Contact Information:
Joan Lionetti, Executive Director
Trees for Tucson
P.O. Box 27210
Tucson, AZ 85726-7210
Phone: (520) 791-3109
Fax: (602) 622-7116
(c) 2005 Alliance for Community Trees