District of Columbia State Forester Monica Lear recently hosted U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and Forest Service staff in a tour of the District for the National Association of State Foresters (NASF). The tour highlighted diverse urban and community forestry projects and partnerships in the city.
At the 2011 NASF Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Chief Tidwell spoke of the significance of the nation’s 100 million acres of urban forests where 80 percent of Americans live, work and play under their canopy. Urban trees make up an important part of the framework of green canopy in metropolitan areas connected with national, public and private lands and they are important to the health of the environment we share.
The tour had eight stops focusing on:
- Efforts to promote large street-tree survival
- Incorporation of Low Impact Design (LID) practices including trees and green roofs at the D.C. Consolidated Forensic Labs to minimize stormwater runoff
- Rubber sidewalk installations to reduce tree root damage
- Recycling and using urban wood in metro Washington, D.C.
- Removal of impervious surfaces to provide new tree planting areas and increase urban tree canopy
- Restoration of a riparian buffer near an armored stream
- Innovative approaches to increasing tree canopy health and survival
- Recycled urban wood use at the People’s Garden at the USDA
“At the Forest Service, we recognize that our responsibilities go beyond the national forests,” said Tidwell. “We have a role to play, directly or indirectly, and that includes the nation’s 100 million acres of urban forests. Our goal is a continuous network of healthy forested landscapes, from remote wilderness areas to the urban neighborhoods where most people live.”
Many of the projects highlighted on the tour were supported in part by the U.S. Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry grants in partnership with the Government of the District of Columbia or other NGO partners. Brian LeCouteur, principal environmental planner with Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, provided an overview of COG’s grant project with the Wood Education Resource Center called “The National Capital Urban Timber Recovery Project” at lunch. This project diverts urban trees from landfills for use as lumber and woodworking in the District and Maryland. Lunch was sourced from a local farm-to-table caterer.
The Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) is an administration within the District Department of Transportation. UFA’s duties include planting, pruning, removing, and maintaining the health of the District of Columbia’s public space tree canopy, specifically street trees and other trees on District parkland and recreational properties. Learn more about the District’s Forest Action Plan.