District’s tree grade drops to B-

A local non-profit lowered D.C.’s 2009 tree grade last month from a B to a B-, citing confusion among District agencies about tree policies and lags federally mandated provisions for tree protection and expansion,

Casey Trees’ report card is the only independent evaluation of the District’s tree canopy and the only independent tree assessment of a city in the United States, according to its website. The grade is based on the amount of tree cover, the condition of the trees, the number of trees planted, the knowledge and participation in tree-related issues and the regulatory and voluntary measures to protect trees.

This is only the second year Casey Trees issued a report card.

The lowered grade came just after Mayor Adrian Fenty’s April 21 announcement that he plans to bring D.C. to a 40 percent urban tree canopy – the layer of leaves, branches, and stems of trees in an urban area that cover the ground when viewed from above – by 2035. The District’s grade dropped because of Fenty’s goal, which raised the bar for how many trees the District should have, said Mike Galvin, executive director of Casey Trees.

Galvin said D.C. is currently at a 35 percent urban tree canopy, which is on par with urban tree canopy in urban areas east of the Mississippi and on the west coast. To reach the 40 percent goal, the report says that 216,300 trees will need to be planted over the next 25 years, or an average of 8,600 trees per year.

GW’s Mount Vernon and Foggy Bottom Campuses have a combined 45 yards of existing urban tree canopy, the report said. Nearly 60 acres are deemed “not suitable” for UTC, while around 30 acres are deemed “possible UTC vegetation.”

On Wednesday as part of an Earth day Initiative, more than 20 trees were planted on the Foggy Bottom Campus by a group of more than 50 students, Gina Fernandes, a Presidential Administrative Fellow ?in the Division of Operations said.

“This year, our goal was to replace trees damaged in the winter storms. GW shares a partnership with Casey Trees,” Fernandes said. “These trees help GW reduce its carbon footprint and prevent more water from flowing into our sewer systems.”

Galvin said Casey Trees is currently not counting GW’s tree planting efforts as part of their overall count of D.C. trees, but added that he is hoping that this year, GW will send the necessary information in order to be included in next year’s report.

Fernandes said the University plans on reporting their tree planting to Casey Trees.

“Our hope is that through these various efforts, the different university, institutions, non profits, and agencies would begin reporting their information to us so we could begin attributing it to the goal,” Galvin said.

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