Just because it is winter doesn’t mean that you can’t participate in community events that support the restoration of the District’s urban forest. Brookland based Casey Trees offers ways to stay engaged for those interested in preserving and expanding DC’s tree canopy. We thought readers might be interested in the classes below, that are offered either at their Brookland headquarters or in greater DC locations. Go to their event page here or follow the links below for more info and to register for the events:
In March, Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill that funds an ambitious project to bury a portion of the above ground power line system in the District (see this Washington Post article). The project has been named DC PLUG and is scheduled to be implemented over the course of the next 7-10 years. A big and long lasting project like this, with a budget of $1 Billion, needs public scrutiny, awareness, inclusion and feedback.
We wrote here last week that the DC Public Service Commission started a series of public hearings to give residents a chance to learn more details about the project and to testify to the commission with their concerns, ideas and suggestions.
I attended the Ward 5 hearing on August 24. I was disappointed that only very few Ward 5 residents took the opportunity to hear the presentation about details of the proposed project. LeRoy Hall (Brookland resident and activist), Mary Pat Rowan (President of the Greater Brookland Garden Club) and Tom Bridge (President of the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association) were the only people other than me, who testified. Hearings like this are a great opportunity to interact with public representatives and decision makers.
Caren Bacon (Pepco) and Keith Foxx (DDOT) gave a presentation about what to expect in the months and years to come regarding the construction to put selected power lines underground. On page 10 of the presentation you can see which streets construction is scheduled for and what lines in particular are being put underground. I was surprised to hear that not all lines (i.e. cable) are going to be buried once a trench has been dug up in the street. Ms. Bacon explained to me that cost is the reason for not burying all lines and connecting the households underground. With that said, unless a collective of DC residents convinces Pepco that we deserve the extra investment funded by the profit that they are making of the rates we are paying them, none of the poles will disappear and our trees will have to continue to endure drastic pruning. BUT, I was told that once the primary feeder [which runs power of very high voltage] has been removed, the pruning can be much less aggressive around the remaining secondary power lines.
I am also very excited to report that our friends at Casey Trees have testified at the Ward 7 meeting to make their expertise heard. Maisie Hughes, the Director of Planing and Advocacy at Casey Trees, stressed the importance in her testimony to protect the existing trees during the construction process and to assure the best possible conditions to enhance the tree canopy in the District for decades to come.
Here is a link to the audio recording of that meeting on August 24. There is still the opportunity to submit written comments to the DC Public Service Commission until September 15 2014. On their website it reads:
Any person desiring to comment on the application may file comments with the Commission no later than September 15, 2014. All written comments should be sent to MS. Brinda Westbrook-Sedgwick, Commission Secretary, Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, 1333 H Street NW 2nd floor, West Tower, Washington D.C. 20005.
There are more hearings and meetings to come in the following months. Keep checking the Commission’s website to review all past and scheduled future events and meetings.
Our good friends at Casey Trees remind us about the tree rebate program that is funded by the DC Department of the Environment. You can start by checking out the list of qualifying tree species on the Casey Trees website. You also want to make sure you pick a good tree for the location you identified. The CT website offers a lot of helpful information that guides you through the entire process from selecting, planting and caring for the tree.
The beautiful Black Gum Tree on the left is just one of multiple trees we submitted a rebate application for.
On their blog CT describes how easy it is to submit an application for a tree rebate:
Participation is simple: purchase a tree from a vendor of your choosing, plant it in D.C., then download our form and submit the rebate with a purchase receipt for each tree. There is no limit to the number of rebates per property.
Many large canopy trees, thanks to their immense environmental benefits, qualify for rebates of up to $100 per tree. Most small and medium canopy trees also qualify, for rebates up to $50 per tree. Invasives, dwarf and ash trees however do not qualify for a rebate of any amount. Refer to our species list for more help.
When we read WMATA’s recently released solicitation asking developers to submit bids to develop parcels of land at the Brookland/CUA Metro stop we had to do something. The solicitation specificallyexcludes the unattractive 2.4 acre paved “bus loop” from development but encourages the development of the smaller Brookland Green, and the destruction of over 20 mature trees. This doesn’t make sense to us. We do not oppose the development, we want it to be the best it can be. So we started a petition, and so far almost 300 readers have stepped up to send a message – Brookland deserves thoughtful, coordinated development that preserves our green space. If you agree with us, please sign the petition below (if you haven’t already), it was developed in conjunction with the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association (BNCA) Brookland Green Committee and other civic leaders.
In addition to signing the petition, we ask that you please show up to a meeting on Wednesday, December 4, hosted by Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie. WMATA representatives will be there to discuss their plans to develop the area arround the Brookland Metro Station. The meeting will be from 6:30 – 8:00 PM at Casey Trees, which is located at 3030 12th St N.E. Here is a flyer for the meeting:
For the full text of the petition, please see our previous post here or click on “read the petition” (Please only residents in 20017 + 20018).
Save The Brookland Green! Petition For Smart Development At The Brookland Metro
The letter referenced in the flyer above was written by Councilmember McDuffie to WMATA expressing his concerns about the development solicitation for the project. We copied the letter below. We would like to thank CM McDuffie for standing up for our neighborhood!
November 13, 2013
Mr. Stan Wall
Director, Office of Real Estate & Station Planning
Department of Finance & Administration
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Dear Mr. Wall,
I have had an opportunity to review WMATA’s November 2013 Joint Development Solicitation Plan, which includes plans to develop real estate surrounding two Ward 5 metro stations: Brookland and Fort Totten. I write specifically concerning WMATA’s solicitation for the Brookland site.
As I have expressed to you in the past, it is important to me and the Brookland community that the Brookland Green between Newton and Otis Streets be preserved when WMATA redevelops its property. I was therefore quite disappointed when I reviewed WMATA’s November 2013 Joint Development Solicitation Plan and learned that WMATA specifically contemplates and encourages development that would negatively impact the Brookland Green. Indeed, Joint Development Solicitation #2013-01 (Brookland-CUA Metro Station) Illustrative Concepts A and B (pages 16 and 17, respectively) suggest to potential development partners that their submissions should take up the entire footprint of the “South Parcel” currently occupied by the Kiss & Ride and Brookland Green.
I encourage WMATA to re-think any plan that would destroy the green space and mature trees that currently serve as the much beloved “Brookland Green,” and I request a meeting to further discuss how WMATA’s development plan for the Brookland Metro can preserve this historic community asset.
Since this week WMATA published their intention to solicit contractors to submit plans to develop their land east of the Brookland CUA Metro Station, we have reached out to Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie to find out where he stands on this issue. We received the following statement:
“The WMATA plan to redevelop the Brookland metro station has been in the pipeline for a long time. I have spoken now twice to representatives of WMATA about their development plans, and have each time expressed my firm belief that any plan for the site should be community-driven and preserve the Brookland Green. I reiterated this concern in a meeting with WMATA just a few weeks ago. However, WMATA’s November 2013 Joint Development Solicitation clearly anticipates building over the Brookland Green between Newton and Otis Streets. I cannot support such a plan because there is limited community-accessible green space in the area. Furthermore, the development plan for the site should take into account, and be coordinated with, other large-scale projects in the immediate vicinity, including the Monroe Street Market and the 901 Monroe Street development. In the coming days, I will transmit a letter to WMATA, which I will share with the community, opposing the loss of the Brookland Green, and urging WMATA to solicit a development plan that respects the character and integrity of the Brookland neighborhood.”
We were told that the staff of CM McDuffie is in contact with WMATA to understand more about the details of this development project, among other aspects why the parcel of the bus turn around at the metro stop is not included in the area to be developed.
We also learned that Councilmember McDuffie pushed for some additional financial support to improve the Rhode Island Avenue streetscape, which includes efforts to improve pedestrian safety, appearance, adding tree boxes and planting trees:
This past spring, Councilmember McDuffie secured $2 million in District Department of Transportation (DDOT) infrastructure funds to implement the Rhode Island Avenue, NE Small Area Plan, which will be leveraged with additional federal highway funds. The funding will support streetscape design, improved sidewalks and pedestrian safety measures, tree planting and tree boxes, as well as other measures to make Rhode Island Avenue NE a more attractive and walkable corridor.
DDOT has completed the contracting process and received the final notice to proceed on the streetscape project. DDOT will be announcing shortly the selected consultants for the project as well as the members of the Citizen Advisory Panel (CAP), which will assist in soliciting feedback from the community. The selection process for CAP members is based on recommendations from DDOT and Councilmember McDuffie. In addition, a public notice will be made soon for an upcoming community meeting to introduce the consultants and the streetscaping project.
As exciting as it is that RI Avenue is getting some overdue attention, it is important that all neighbors, north and south of the Avenue, are involved in this process. Look out for community meeting announcements, engage with your ANCs, your Civic Associations and neighbors to assure smart, sensible and balanced improvements are being implemented.
Due to the recent announcement by WMATA (posted yesterday) to solicit bids to develop the area east of the Brookland metro stop, the BNCA added the discussion about the “Brookland Green” to the agenda for this month’s meeting on Saturday. The “Brookland Green” covers roughly a little bit more than 30% of the grounds that WMATA would like to develop on. It is the green space just east of the kiss and ride are at the metro stop, covered with mature trees. It would be a shame, if Brookland would loose this beautiful and valuable green oasis. The BNCA has established a “Brookland Green Committee” which I am sure would welcome anybody who would like to join. The meeting will be held at the Howard Divinity School, 1400 Shepherd Street NE in the Faculty Dining Room (Basement level, room 78).
Here is the information for the BNCA Meeting on Saturday November 9th:
Summer has put a tight grip around our area. Although we have had more rainfall than average, it is still helpful to review a few tips that Casey Trees published in their tree almanac. Following these guidelines will help especially your young trees to make it through the hot summer. Please do not forget about the many new trees in our neighborhood that were planted by the city, i.e. along 12th Street. They need your help as well. Consider investing in a watering bag to make it easy for you to give a young street tree the sufficient amount of water per week, or a tree guard to protect the trunk from lawn movers and weed whackers.
Here is an excerpt from Casey Trees website:
There are a variety of ways to help water your trees:
Pledge to water your trees through our #25toStayAlive campaign and we will mail you a complimentary rain gauge for your yard. If less than 1.5 inches of rain falls in a week, you know to water your trees. (Offer limited to those within a 25-mile radius of the District.)
Follow our weekly watering recommendations. Every Monday from May through September, we post tree watering recommendations here, on our homepage and to Facebook and Twitter. Tweet @CaseyTrees with the hashtag #25tostayalive or send us a message on Facebook to let us know how your watering efforts are going.
Purchase a slow-release watering bags to help make watering your trees easier – 25 gallons, once a week. They’re available for purchase on our online shop for $15 each.
Also, here’s some other advice for District residents –
Mulch.Mulching helps keep the soil moist and controls weeds. If you did not mulch in spring, now would be a good time. Apply the “3-3-3 Rule” – three inches of mulch in a three-foot ring with a three-inch space around the tree trunk to prevent decay.
Weed. Remove summer grasses from around the trunk.
Check Trunk Guards.Weed whackers and lawn mowers can cause severe damage to a tree’s circulation system. Add tree guards to the base of the tree if landscaping equipment is used around the tree. Check installed tree guards to make sure they are installed properly. They’re available for purchase on our online shop for $3 each.
We have additional resources in our Trees How-To section of our website – look for our tree care tips as well as our video instructions for how to water and prune a tree.
Now that summer is in full swing, Brookland’s trees are displaying their glory. I don’t know if I have a favorite tree, but if I would have to pick, the weeping willow would be high on the list. Hope you enjoy these pics of trees from around the neighborhood.
The Casey Trees spring planting season started last Saturday. The kick off event of the season was a planting I participated in where a team of volunteers and staff planted 30 trees on the campus of Catholic University. Some of the species we planted were White Swamp Oaks, American Elms and Magnolias. Volunteering with Casey Trees is rewarding in many ways, but in this case, it was great to get to know this institution so close to home a little better. Catholic University has been a partner and supporter in increasing the tree canopy of DC ever since Casey Trees moved to Brookland.
This spring Brookland residents will have the chance to participate in a couple of upcoming plantings in and around their own neighborhood. For example, Langdon Park in nearby Woodridge will get 39 new trees on April 13. Go to the Casey Trees event calendar and sign up for this great volunteer opportunity.
There will also be an event in Michigan Park. Not all details for this event on Thursday April 25 are finalized. Please check back on the Casey Trees Event Calendar for the exact location and time.
Mary McLeod Bethune Day Academy Public Charter School located on 14th and Jackson Street NE will partner with Casey Trees for a tree planting on March 28. This event is closed for the public, but the youth and education team from Casey Trees will lead the students of MMBDA to plant their own trees and teach them about the value, benefits and vulnerability of trees.
The Casey Trees calendar offers many other opportunities beside plating trees to be involved in activities or learn about trees. Check out their classes, online tree chats, seminars, workshops and special lectures. And we are lucky, Casey Trees is right here in Brookland. It’s just a short walk or bike ride away. The staff is super friendly and always helpful and supportive.
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