(Photo credit: Howard Fink)
The foundation of the Green Master Plan has always been its focus on increasing the neighborhood tree canopy. In the short-term, RHIC has a set a goal of increasing the neighborhood tree canopy by 30% before 2018. In the long-term, Reservoir Hill would like to match TreeBaltimore’s objective of doubling the tree canopy by 2036. Starting in 2008, when resident volunteers performing an initial tree survey joined to establish the RHIC Green Team, Reservoir Hill has not only increased its tree canopy significantly, but also leveraged the neighborhood’s larger tree count into expanded community greening relationships and programs.
We have made great strides in recent years, but Reservoir Hill’s tree canopy is still at only 18% (younger trees take several years to form significant coverage), while the Baltimore City average is 27%. Check out our progress below:
RHIC forms the Green Team volunteer group to direct a community-wide tree canopy improvement project, with the objective of doubling the tree cover in Reservoir Hill to match Baltimore City’s TreeBaltimore goal of doubling the city’s tree canopy by 2036. In 2009, with grant support from Chesapeake Bay Trust, volunteers plant 131 trees in the community, exceeding our initial goal by 31%.
RHIC collaborates with Kids on the Hill, a Reservoir Hill youth-led community arts organization dedicated to social change, on a year-long watershed curriculum at John Eager Howard Elementary School.
With additional grant support from Chesapeake Bay Trust, RHIC plants nearly 2o0 more trees. At the same time, the principal lesson we have learned from our tree canopy project is that maintenance, especially for our young trees, is critical to the long-term goals of our project. The most notable accomplishments from 2011 included: using CBT funding to pay an Americorps crew to provide twice-weekly watering for the most vulnerable young trees in summer 2011; creating or expanding 67 tree wells in spring 2011 and fall 2011; collaborating with a local GIS phD student to create a constantly updated database and map to track young tree conditions in summer 2011; removing 12,400 square feet of impervious surface from vacant lots and sidewalk spaces to create new planting areas for trees and plants; and, finally, establishing the inaugural class of “Tree Stewards” in fall 2011 to ensure that newly planted trees were strategically located and connected to engaged residents.
RHIC’s detailed approach to tree location and maintenance pays off: in 2012, 37 of the 38 trees planted by RHIC “Tree Stewards” in 2011 continue to be in good condition. Considering that the national average for urban tree death rate approaches 40% (Lu et al. 2010), RHIC’s comprehensive planning and consistent communication with residents makes a tremendous difference. CBT’s continued support for RHIC’s Tree Canopy Project allowed us to recruit another 20 “Tree Stewards” to help plant another 30 new trees in Reservoir Hill.
And thanks to a Partnership for Parks grant from Parks & People Foundation, more than 25 volunteers helped transform the empty walking path along the south side of Druid Park Lake Dr. between Linden Ave. and Lakeview Ave. into a tree-lined space.