Town of Forest Heights Keeps Street Trees Healthy and Thriving

By March 16, 2018 September 13th, 2018 Blog

Tree Keepers project funded by Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program

Trees are essential—they clean the air, lower the temperature of cities during warm weather, and reduce heating bills in cold weather. They also act as filters to clean stormwater and slow the flow of water during heavy rains to reduce flooding, which is why even urban areas need plenty of trees. Trees along sidewalks and roads in urban areas are known as “street trees.” Street trees require regular care and maintenance to keep them healthy and thriving.

The Town of Forest Heights received a Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant to fund their unique Tree Keepers project, a summer program which combined a maintenance plan for existing street trees with job training and mentorship for high school students and a community outreach plan to engage citizens in the care and maintenance of street trees.

Using grant funds, the Town hired six high school students from Oxon Hill and Potomac High Schools, one college graduate student, and one community elder for the summer program. These new hires for the project were known as the “Tree Keepers.”

At the start of the project, the Tree Keepers learned about trees from two certified arborists. Then they examined, watered, mulched, and pruned 150 street trees. The group also conducted research to identify and catalogue trees. The Town will use this data to create an environmental asset inventory.

ENGAGING THE COMMUNITY

The Tree Keepers engaged Town residents using an educational campaign that focused on sharing the benefits of trees, including improved property value, stormwater collection, air quality, and energy conservation. In addition, the Tree Keepers talked with people who lived near the street trees to share the value of the tree, along with a few easy tips to help the tree continue to grow and thrive. They also shared a brochure with residents that they developed as part of the program.

PROJECT SUCCESS!

This project was a success for the Town of Forest Heights. The high school students gained job experience, some for the first time, and the guidance of the community elder and the graduate student was a successful model for mentoring and learning in the program. Building capacity within the community and building job skills was important goal of the project. The Town even hired one of the students at the end of the summer to provide maintenance and upkeep for plants at the Town Hall property.

Most importantly, the Tree Keepers forged connections with homeowners about the care and maintenance of the trees in their neighborhood. Now Town residents are interested and excited about their street trees!

PRINCE GEORGE’S STORMWATER STEWARDSHIP GRANT PROGRAM

The Prince George’s County Department of the Environment (DoE) partners with the Chesapeake Bay Trust to offer the Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to support clean water projects and engage citizens throughout Prince George’s County. Applications for this program are currently closed, but will reopen in June/July 2018. Learn more about previous grant awards here.

GET INVOLVED

Are you interested in planting a tree?

The following organizations have received funding through the Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to plant trees on private individual residential property in Prince George’s County in 2018:

Contact them to inquire about planting opportunities on your property or in your neighborhood!

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