Arbor Day will have special significance for the U.S. Department of Agriculture this year in Baltimore, Md. The Department and the Forest Service, in partnership with Parks & People Foundation, Tree Baltimore, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and community members, will plant 100 trees in the neighborhood where the city experienced an uprising last April. Ten trees will be planted on Arbor Day, and the remaining trees will be planted by community members throughout the year.
The U.S. Forest Service has worked in partnership with the City of Baltimore for more than 20 years, most recently providing expertise and guidance to the mayor’s leadership team on developing a comprehensive green master plan that focuses on vacant lots.
Signature projects of the Forest Service’s Baltimore Field Station and other Forest Service urban field stations include: Urban Tree Canopy Assessment, a set of tools that help cities integrate environmental, social, and economic needs and priorities in planning future tree planting; STEW-MAP, a social network assessment that locates stewardship activities and networks in a city to support sustainability and environmental justice goals; and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, which convenes local partners to protect and restore urban waterways, strengthen neighborhoods, and support community-led revitalization efforts.
Forest Service research has helped communities understand and quantify the many benefits of trees and green space. A neighborhood’s trees can provide shade, improve air quality, and help manage storm water flows, in addition to providing critical social, mental, and physical health benefits. In recognition of the value of urban nature for city residents, cities like Baltimore are cleaning and greening vacant lots, protecting and restoring parks, and looking for other opportunities to expand their “urban forests.”
USDA will celebrate Arbor Day and the act of tree planting this year in Baltimore’s Mondawmin neighborhood, an economic district and transportation hub for students and city residents. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack will take part in the tree planting event as well as a ribbon-cutting celebration for a community garden at a neighborhood high school. During the day, he’ll launch USDA’s new Urban Agriculture Tool Kit, which provides resources and tools to advance the growth of urban farming.
For more information about our Baltimore Field Station, visit: http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/baltimore/