Residents of the Frogtown neighborhood in St. Paul, Minn., will soon enjoy a burst of green throughout their neighborhood and breathe easier, thanks to a newly formalized partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and a local environmental nonprofit organization, Tree Trust.
Through its Urban Connections program, the Forest Service’s national forests in the Eastern Region, Tree Trust, and other local organizations planted 50 trees (tamarack, Princeton elm, Regal Prince oak, and River birch), in May and October, in the historic Frogtown neighborhood.
“We can walk down the streets and watch the trees we helped plant grow year after year,” said Lara Christley, a Frogtown resident and chairwoman of Tree Frogs, a local neighborhood group of concerned citizens active in this partnership and in improving Frogtown’s ecosystem.
“The plantings have provided a platform to share the value of urban trees and natural resources with residents. This is a great opportunity to explain their connection to the nation’s forests and the role of the Forest Service in protecting them,” said Minneapolis/St. Paul Urban Connections Coordinator Teri Heyer.
Heyer said, “Trees are a living investment whether they are growing in a local green space or a national forest.”
Frogtown has one of the lowest tree canopy covers in St. Paul due to a long history of construction and urbanization. As a result, the neighborhood is not able to reap the benefits that urban trees provide, such as reducing energy use by shading buildings in the summer and blocking cold winter winds, absorbing air pollutants, and decreasing soil erosion. They can even increase property values by 10-20 percent.
Frogtown, officially known as Thomas-Dale, is among St. Paul’s most culturally diverse neighborhoods. Settled between the 1860s and 1880s, Frogtown has markedly different boundaries today than when the neighborhood was founded.
In the 1960s, the Rondo neighborhood (a traditionally African-American neighborhood adjacent to Frogtown) was demolished in order to make way for Interstate Highway 94. As a result, many families moved northward into Frogtown.
The area continues to be one of the city’s most prominent working class neighborhoods with a large number of historically and architecturally significant buildings deserving preservation.