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CityShade Tree Planting Program

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Environment
Location
Texas
Cycle Year
2015
Carly Blankenship
512-443-5323
carly@treefolks.org
P.O. Box 704
Austin
TX
78767
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Goals for the CityShade Tree Planting Program include: 1. Engage the community in tree planting and care events to increase the sense of ownership individuals place on urban trees. 2. Collaborate with municipal partners to plant thousands of trees in public parks, preserves and right of ways. 3. Increase the overall health of the urban forest by providing ongoing care to young and established trees on private land.
Benefits
The thousands of volunteers recruited annually and the sense of ownership created from local community members directly improves the health of trees in parks and preserves. Volunteers receive first-hand experience in proper tree planting and care techniques and are encouraged to implement these practices on their private residences, which comprise over 80% of land in Austin, Texas. This program connects individuals with their surrounding environment and increases the beauty and health of our growing community.
Proposal Description
The Texas Forest Service estimates over 5.6 million trees found along urban streets, neighborhoods and parks couldn’t survive the impact of the record-setting drought that swept through Texas. This dramatic tree loss along with increased urban development is having a profound impact on the health and vitality of Central Texas residents. Trees in urban areas play an important role in public health by mitigating the effects of urban heat islands, enhancing water and air quality, and providing shelter from the hot Texas sun. These valuable benefits emphasize the importance of planting new trees each year and properly maintaining established trees in public areas. And with a fast growing community such as Austin, citizen engagement is vital to this process to increase the value and sense of ownership individuals place on their urban forest. TreeFolks is the connector. TreeFolks’ CityShade program partners with local municipal agencies to engage volunteers in public tree planting events and provides ongoing tree care opportunities on public spaces. The thousands of volunteers recruited annually and the sense of ownership gained from local community members enable TreeFolks and their municipal partners to maximize limited resources and improve the health of urban trees. Volunteers receive first-hand experience in proper tree planting and care techniques and are encouraged to implement these practices on their private residences, which comprise over 80% of land in Austin, Texas. This program connects individuals with their surrounding environment and increases the beauty and health of our growing community. TreeFolks goals for the CityShade program include: 1. Engage the community in tree planting and care events to increase the sense of ownership individuals place on urban trees. 2. Collaborate with municipal partners to plant thousands of trees in public parks, preserves and right of ways. 3. Increase the overall health of the urban forest by providing ongoing care to young and established trees on private land. Community Engagement When people plant trees together, community bonds are strengthened. TreeFolks has engaged the community in tree planting and care for the past twenty-five years. TreeFolks serves as a bridge between municipal partners and their citizens to increase the health of the urban forest. Public tree planting events are an excellent way for volunteers of all ages to get involved with the public spaces in their community and learn the benefits of planting trees in urban spaces. TreeFolks is the connector. While land management partners typically plan the location of the event, purchase trees and install irrigation, TreeFolks is responsible for engaging the community. We provide the publicity, marketing and large volunteer base to bring individuals to these events as well as provide trained staff and volunteer supervisors to manage the volunteers during the event. TreeFolks also meets with partner staff before the events to provide logistical support to ensure the tree planting event is well structured to support hundreds of volunteers. TreeFolks utilizes a core group of volunteers to serve as supervisors during tree planting events. Volunteer supervisors have attended planting events in the past and undergo specialized training. Each volunteer supervisor oversees a group of volunteers to educate them on the importance of public trees, proper tree planting and to create a positive atmosphere during the event. If volunteers have a positive experience during a public tree planting event, they are more likely to expand the techniques learned at planting events to their private residences, where nearly 80% of the urban tree canopy is found. The support we provide to our partners leverages limited resources so more care and attention can be placed on growing and improving health of public trees. Tree Planting Each year, TreeFolks and their partners plant thousands of trees in public parks, preserves and right of ways throughout Central Texas. There are two primary methods of tree planting which address various environmental needs in the community. These methods include: • Riparian restoration – To address the needs of damaged forests along creek sides, the City of Austin’s Watershed Department has started a large-scale program to end mowing and restore riparian forests throughout Austin, called “Grow Zones” or Ready-Set-Plant!” Because these areas can take a generation or more to grow into a mature forest on their own, TreeFolks partners with the City of Austin to install thousands of baby seedlings through volunteer events along creek sides, accelerating the development of the riparian forest. Trees are planted densely along stream banks to mimic the natural growth of young trees, expecting a small percentage of the trees to survive on their own. This method of tree planting has proven to be a cost-effective way to plant trees along riparian areas. • Container Tree Planting – For many members of the community, established tree canopy is the main draw to community parks in their neighborhood. TreeFolks partners with municipal agencies such as the City of Austin’s Urban Forestry Program and Travis County to plant larger, containerized trees in public parks and right of ways. Planting larger trees in compacted urban soils is often labor intensive, therefore hundreds of volunteers are recruited to ease this burden for partner agency staff. Once planted, partner agencies irrigate the trees for the first few years to ensure the newly planted trees have the best chance of reaching maturity. Tree Care and Maintenance TreeFolks is expanding the program to coordinate tree care and maintenance events for young and established trees on public land. A few examples of tree care events include mulching and root collar clearing to improve the long-term health of public trees. Mulch provides significant benefits to newly planted and existing trees including decreased soil temperature and increased soil moisture and stem growth. Volunteer mulching events help address the issue of drought in southern communities to help retain soil moisture and increase nutrients for the tree. These tree maintenance and care events are excellent opportunities to educate community members and keep volunteers engaged in the summer, a time when tree planting is not recommended in Central Texas. The goal for the upcoming season is to plant approximately 4,500 trees with 1,000 volunteers. Planning is currently underway to determine the locations, dates and number of trees for 10-15 community volunteer events this year. Current known locations for tree planting events include Gus Garcia District Park, Adams Hemphill park, Williams Elementary School, Ortega School, Akins High school, Shoal Creek Greenbelt, Lady Bird Lake, Boggy Creek and Downs Mabson. METHOD OF EVALUATION Each site and type of event has unique parameters by which TreeFolks will measure success. Once the program is complete, TreeFolks will provide a final report detailing the success and challenges of the program. The report will include the actual metrics completed for the program as illustrated in the objectives section along with the following information: • The number of collaborations with partner agencies • The number of tree planting and mulching events • The number of containerized trees planted in public parks • The number of sapling trees planted along creeks • The number of newly planted and mature trees cared for at maintenance events • The number of volunteers recruited along with their hours and in-kind labor contributions. • Complete results of the survey sent to volunteers TreeFolks respectfully requests a grant from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation to directly support the CityShade tree planting and care efforts in Travis County.