Monday, May 16, 2011

DC Rates a "C" When It Comes to Tree Care, Says Casey Tree Foundation

The Casey Tree Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes and protects trees on both private and public land in Washington, DC, has issued its third annual Report Card on how well the DC government is doing when it comes to tree care. The organization has given DC the grade of "C" for 2010, a drop from the B- grade it earned from the organization the previous year.

The Casey Tree Foundation's tree care experts based the C grade on five criteria: awareness, coverage, health, planting, and protection. The city's average in 2010 was brought down mainly by the "F" given in the category of tree protection.Since 2002 the city has been charged with enforcing Urban Forest Preservation Act (UFPA), which mandates the replacement of any large trees removed because of land development or development-related activities; the UFPA includes a Tree Fund to pay for the planting of replacement trees. In 2010 Casey Trees found that the city exercised poor oversight of the UFPA and used the money in the Tree Fund for purposes other than those permitted by the Act.

The worst failure was the redirection of $539,000 from the Tree Fund to the General Fund in Fiscal Year 2011 to offset budget shortfalls. The city also lacks records for some 10,000 trees that should have been planted since 2002; there is no way of knowing whether those trees were ever planted, or if planted, are still alive. Casey Trees wants the Gray Administration to reevaluate how the UFPA is administered and if necessary shift that role to an agency that will be able to carry out the duties described in the Act.

The tree report is not all bad news, though.  The city earned high marks for the number of trees planted and for promoting public awareness of tree issues. The best news in the Tree Report Card: For the first time since the District announced its urban tree canopy goal of 40 percent tree coverage by 2035 (which requires the planting of 8,600 trees per year by all sources, public and private), the target goal was not only met but exceeded (by 32 trees).

In the categories of tree health and tree coverage, the city earned a B- and a B+, respectively.  These grades were unchanged from 2009.

To view the complete Tree Report Card for 2010 as well as the previous two years, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment