Cycling Tree-Care Crews Hit D.C. Streets


A Water By-Cycle crews chats tree care with a passerby. Photo via Casey Trees.

Jonathan Fuentes, a high-school senior in Washington, D.C., had never ridden a bicycle before he started an internship with Casey Trees. Now he's cruising around the U.S. capital towing a cargo trailer full of watering hoses and safety cones, riding more than 9 miles and watering some 30 trees in a day as part of the nonprofit group's Water By-Cycle initiative, the nation's first bike-powered tree-care program.Founded in 2001 in response to an American Forests study about tree-cover loss in the District of Columbia, Casey Trees first dispatched more than 500 trained volunteers to walk almost 1,000 miles of D.C. streets to survey street trees and empty tree spaces, data the organization has made available on an online TreeMap.

Trees Benefit Urban Neighborhoods
Since conducting the survey, the organization and its volunteers have planted more than 7,000 trees at over 250 events. "Tree planting and care not only makes neighborhoods beautiful, it engages residents and empowers them to become environmental stewards," Casey Trees says. The nonprofit trains Citizen Foresters to plant and care for trees, conduct tree inventories, and advocate for greener city planning; organizes tree-planting programs for community groups and schools; and works with residents, policy makers, design firms, and government agencies to encourage tree-friendly policies and better building practices. Trees' benefits for D.C. include:

  • filtering 540 tons of pollutants from the air each year
  • saving more than $2.6 million in air-conditioning costs annually
  • decreasing storm water runoff by helping rain soak into the ground
  • reducing stress and crime
  • increasing property values by up to 20 percent

Launched earlier this month as "an environmentally responsible and more efficient way to reach trees located in neighborhoods with limited street parking," the Water By-Cycle program, which we first heard about on the Wend Magazine blog, sends cycling crews out to inspect, maintain, and water trees in eight D.C. neighborhoods, including Dupont Circle and Georgetown.

Traveling by bike lets the Casey Trees crews more easily interact with curious passersby, and they always have tree-care literature at the ready. A full-time crew chief supervises urban-forestry interns such as Fuentes who are getting an introduction to the work force and learning about environmental careers, greening their future prospects while they do the same for their city's streets.

More about urban trees:
Trees are Air Pollution Sentinels
Planting Trees in New York City's Biggest Park - Green Apple Festival 2009
The Grove Hopes to Connect Citizens With Trees
Graphic of the Day: Urban Trees a Significant and Growing Means of Carbon Sequestration
Backyard Fruit Trees A Barely Tapped Resource For Urban Gleaning
Digitally Mapping San Francisco's Trees
Three Million Trees Planted in Mexico City This Summer
Urban Tree Salvage: Saving Forests with City Trees
Urban Tree Harvest

Tags: Activism | Biking | Green Youth | Urban Life | Urban Planning | Washington DC

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