Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Who Cares About Urban Trees?

That's the question asked by The Atlantic Cities. The story focuses on a small effort, tree identification classes in Brooklyn, that tries to foster urban tree stewardship. The story lists all the reasons why we should care about urban trees. Everything from cleaner air, cooler temperatures, even decreases in stress and depression in people surrounded by trees. I used to think that we in Richardson knew all that.

After all, Richardson is justifiably proud of many of the awards the city has won over the years -- awards for parks and trails and recreation centers, environmental leadership and green building design.

That makes it all the more puzzling and frustrating that the city's own "Tree the Town" initiative has been left to wither and die. It was put on hold in 2012, putatively for an understandable reason -- North Texas was experiencing a record-setting drought. But the drought is over. We still have miles of medians and trails, dozens of parks and plazas, and acres of new development, all of which could benefit from an energetic tree-planting program led by the city. But "Tree the Town" is still on hold, maybe even officially dead. Maybe it wasn't the drought that killed it after all.

How can Richardson think of itself as an environmentally-friendly city without an active tree-planting program? The simple answer is that it can't.

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