Community dialogue on increasing urban tree canopy
"Trees sell houses." It's a clear, practical and important message as expressed by Carter Willson, a local builder. Carter was among a group of Maryland-National Capital Building Industry Association members and Conservation Montgomery members who met recently to talk about a proposed set of amendments to the county Forest Conservation Law (FCL) and how new legislation can be crafted with increasing tree canopy in mind. The County Executive intends to make good on his 2006 campaign promise to deliver legislation that addresses urban canopy loss. Residents around the county are eagerly waiting for the introduction of a bill.
Ecological services offered by trees are innumerable. Trees are the silent work horses of the environment. But they make good economic sense too. The National Association of Realtors has reminded its members that each tree on a home lot adds more than $600 in value to that property. And the National Association of Home Builders notes a 6% increase on sale prices of houses with trees.
Preserving or increasing the urban canopy is a hot topic these days, not just in our county but across the state where officials have acknowledged the crucial role that trees and forests play in air quality, stormwater management and watershed restoration. According to data from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), our countywide forest canopy is at about 50%. But in the urbanized Down County, most often subject to new infill development, we have areas where tree canopy is well below what is considered as a healthy standard for air and water quality. To read a Gazette story listing some of the urban tree canopy percentages, visit this link.
|Down County neighborhood|
Conservation Montgomery hosted an evening reception and talk by Jim Schwab, urban planner and principal author of "Planning the Urban Forest" on March 3rd. Jim's presentation was informative and instructive at the same time. He pointed out that trees have value for the public in a variety of ways, depending on perspective and needs of community members. For more information on the value of trees,click here. And read the annual Forest Conservation Program Report, here.
The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection encourages residents to plant trees on their property for economic and environmental benefits. Residents may be eligible for rebates for tree planting under the county Rainscapes program.
Conservation Montgomery has welcomed five new organizations as partners over the past month: the Potomac Conservancy, Woodrock Homeowners Association, Friends of Rock Creek's Environment (FORCE), Washington Women Outdoors and the West Montgomery County Citizens Association. Our family is growing!
Greet spring of 2011 with Conservation Montgomery's Community Strolls
With spring on the way, our Community Strolls will resume soon. Our board will meet in early April to schedule forays into county communities. We will explore more of our neighborhoods as well as beautiful county parks such as the Serpentine Barrens Conservation Park in Potomac. Please watch for notices Community Strolls under the "Calendar" section of the ConservationMontgomery.org home page. If you can't join us to shake off Cabin Fever, we encourage you to visit a county park on your own. A directory listing our award-winning parks is here. If you yearn for networking of another sort, please join us for a MeetUp networking event at Gordon Biersch in Rockville on March 30th at 6:30 p.m.
Enjoy the transition to spring -- and don't forget to leave your computer screens for the great outdoors.
-- From your friends with the Conservation Montgomery Board of Directors