City of Trees

This video so perfectly sums up all the reasons I love street trees. Though I didn’t know it at the time, the street trees along my neighborhood street were one of the reasons I fell in the love with the house we currently live in.

Since moving in three years ago, I’ve seen three of these trees cut down.

When I saw this notice, I called the number listed on the flyer. I was introduced to the City Forester (a position I knew nothing about before this call!). I asked her why these trees were being removed (disease) and if they would be replaced (they would not). I asked why, and was told of an interesting disconnect. She told me that though developers often plan a planting strip beside the roadway it is rarely ever wide enough to facilitate healthy growth of an adult tree. It’s compounded by compaction of earth required for both the adjacent sidewalk and roadway, which makes it hard for the roots to grow. The trees planted in these conditions tend to grow small or eventually become unhealthy for lack of dirt to grow their roots.

Soon after those trees were removed, this tree was gone. A disturbing trend! Perhaps, as the City Forester said, the age of neighborhood was such that this will continue to be the case, as these poor trees have nowhere else to grow.

Curious about the tree coverage in your part of town? Check out Treasure Valley Canopy Network. They have maps showing the tree coverage of the city. On their website they list some pretty sorry statistics:

  • The nine Treasure Valley communities range between 20% and 5% tree canopy, with an average of 10% tree canopy. Boise’s Harrison Boulevard neighborhood has the greatest tree canopy at 41%

No wonder I love Harrison Boulevard so much!

So what do we do?

Plant trees of course!

I found three programs that make this financially more feasible. The first program is through the City of Boise, called NeighborWoods. As their site says, the goal is to provide free trees to property owners to be planted on private property within 10 feet of the public right of way (the street or sidewalk).  NeighborWoods is intended not only to provide trees and their benefits to individual property owners, but to the public streets as well, which in turn provide benefits to the City as a whole.

Boise also has a program called ReLeaf where volunteers come together and plant trees for free.

This program is limited to trees near the street, so fill your yard with trees beyond just near the street, we got a baby tree from Idaho Power as a part of their Shade Tree Project. The thing I like about this program is that it guarantees shade benefits. When we went to sign up, we entered our address and then you select the type of tree you would like (from the list available), then based on how tall and wide the tree will grow they allow you to drag the tree placement around your yard to see where you will get the most benefit from placement.

While our little baby tree is SO tiny right now, it’s hard to imagine it providing any shade for years to come, but I’m exciting to watch it grow and see how it changes the dynamics of our backyard.

So what are you waiting for? Go out and plant a tree! 🙂

UPDATE! I found another cool resource I’ll share that talks about the many benefits of street trees. Check it out!