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October 27, 2011

Cm. Mendelson Tree Bill Briefing on November 4th!

Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 11:44:12 AM EST

by Chris Weiss, Director, DC Environmental Network

Invitation & Background:

On November 4th join the DC Environmental Network, Casey Trees and other interested environmentalists for a special briefing featuring Councilmember Phil Mendelson. This event will take place at the John A. Wilson Building, offices of our Council and Mayor, in Room 120.

RSVP for this event here.

The DC Environmental Network, Casey Trees, Sierra Club and many others have worked hard over the years to stop the decline of the District’s tree canopy. In the 1950’s DC had a tree canopy that covered approximately 45%. Today the canopy is 35% and continues to decline.  See Casey Trees Urban Forestry Brief.

In 2002 the District passed the “Urban Forestry Preservation Act of 2002.” This act protected trees of a certain size and should have resulted in significantly more trees being planted the last eight years. Most environmental organizations feel that this law was never adequately implemented, and additionally, with the creation of the District Departmet of the Environment (DDOE) and other changes, is already outdated and needs fixing.

The DC Environmental Network believes that trees should be a central component of the District’s new Sustainable DC plan. Trees have many benefits including combatting greenhouse gases, cleaning our air, providing oxygen, cooling our streets, conserving energy, saving water and preventing water pollution. Trees also provide food, protect children from ultra-violet rays that can cause skin cancer and can even bring communities together. We saw this in 2002 when hundreds of District residents and organizations testified in support of trees at the biggest hearing on an environmental issue of the last decade.

The good news is the District has extremely dedicated organizations like Casey Trees working to reverse the decline of the tree canopy. In fact, in recent years, Casey Trees convinced the District government to adopt a goal of 40% tree cover by 2035.

Councilmember Mendelson, who has championed protection of trees over the years, recently introduced legislation, the “Urban Forestry Administration Act of 2011” to start fixing the District’s broken and minimally implemented tree regulations. Mendelson’s bill increases necessary protections for smaller trees to help them reach the state of development that gives District residents the most benefits from tree cover. Mendelson’s bill also transfers the Urban Forestry Administration to the District Department of the Environment.

The environmental community has lots of ideas on how we might fix our dated tree bill. See Casey Trees Recommended Modifications. Introduction of this new legislation and our discussions with Councilmember Mendelson and others are important steps to finally having tree protections that make sense.

RSVP for this event here!

All are welcome.

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