Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Who will speak for the Trees? South Burlington, Vermont University Mall

 Where is the canopy? Where are the summer leaves? Where is the shade?

Tie a green ribbon around
each sick tree
and maybe
just maybe
someone will take notice
and care for the trees.

NOTE: New Tree Canopy related References and Communications are added frequently- see bottom of this posting.
On 2/1/2016 Todd Finard presented a preliminary vision for a new developed UNIV Mall to create an "experience sense of place". I look forward to not only new indoor experience offerings, but also hope for a calming shaded tree centric outdoor (parking lot) community environment.
BFP Video showing Univ. Mall Design Concept:
The day is hot, sun shining brightly, traffic moving slowly, yet I do not mind. Tall canopy shade trees line the road on wide grass, shrub and mulch filled greenbelts. Their branches and leaves paint a mosaic pattern across the road and its travelers. I feel refreshingly cool, calm, safe, while I breathe fresh filtered air and view the pleasant landscape I am traveling- my destination now less important, as I enjoy the here and now. 

The benefits of urban trees are many. Drivers slow down on tree-lined streets. Studies note decreased car crashes and overall crash severity. Trees provide more pleasant walking environments. Trees even have a calming and healing effect on ADHD adults and teens according to Kathleen Wolf, Social Science PH.D University of Washington. Businesses on treed landscaped streets show higher income streams. Trees absorb moisture and reduce runoff. Trees provide sun and moderate rain protection. They reduce the impact of tail pipe emissions. Street trees absorb more pollutants than distant trees. Trees soften harsh asphalt and other street features.

I speak for the urban trees. Not the mythical and famous Truffla trees of The Lorax fame from Dr. Seuss. I speak of the opportunity to plant more trees along our roadways and walkways, as well as in our parks and other green spaces. I request business representatives recognize the investment opportunity that canopy shade trees offer their businesses as well as the enhancement to our community. Revisit your store landscape and ask yourself what more you can do towards shading and softening your lot with improved tree planting and maintenance. Parking lots can become destinations, with butterfly gardens, gazebos, benches, S shaped lanes, and tree lined walking lanes.

Citizens, will you add your voice for a minimum of 15% of business parking lot areas to contain landscaped islands with canopy shade trees? Better yet, ask for shade ordinance declaring a percentage of parking lots must be shaded. Note that perimeter row plantings do not accomplish wide area parking lot shading. Doesn't everyone like to have a shaded parking spot in the summer? 
Ask for adequate planting and long-term maintenance so that the trees will reach their mature full size providing the maximum benefits. Ask businesses to replace dying, dead or missing trees they promised on their zoning permits when the land was developed.

Craig Lambert, South Burlington, Vermont tree arborist advises that the city does very little tree planting other than replacements and plantings at new developments. There is no tree planting line item in the budget; the budget covers maintenance of existing trees.  The city currently has a Community Tree Nursery with approximately 200-250 trees in it thanks to volunteers. “In all likelihood, we will be faced with a large number of tree replacements over the next 5-10 years due to emerald ash borer (EAB) infestation.  This will necessitate the removal and subsequent replacement of a large number of ash trees along city streets (currently about 15% of the city tree population which totals around 5500 trees)," said Lambert. 
Will you speak for our urban trees? Contact your local businesses, city council members, zoning administrators, and city arborist and tell them where and how we can do better in gaining the benefits of urban trees. Seek the development or expansion of a Community Tree Nursery. Speak out for a Green and Clean Community.

Tie a green ribbon around
each sick tree
and maybe
just maybe
someone will take notice
and care for the trees.


Put the green back into your neighborhood,
          request your local businesses maintain
                                           a green and clean

                                                  Speak for the Trees
                                                  so they can continue
                                                  to purify the air and water
                                                  provide shade and shelter
                                                  and soften harsh urban landscapes                                                       into social oasis.

Nearly everyone likes to park in the shade.


10 Best Cities for Urban Forest

Urban Street Trees. 22 Benefits, Specific Applications

Guidelines for Developing and Evaluating Tree Ordinances. Shade provided by trees in parking lots reduces excessive heat buildup which can adversely affect the local microclimate and air quality (Center for Urban Forest Research 2001a). Recognizing this fact, many cities have adopted ordinances that require set amounts of tree planting or shading in parking lots (seeprovision 25). Parking lot shade ordinances lend themselves readily to retrospective analysis to determine whether the goals of the ordinance are indeed being met.

Urban Forest Management Plan Toolkit

Urban and Community Forestry Policy and Law

How trees calm us down. New Yorker July 2015

When a Parking Lot is so Much More. NYT Article

Benefits of Urban Greening.

Benefits of Trees and urban forest. 

Parking and Trees in cities and towns

Why Shade Trees? The Unexpected Benefit. Specific benefits to streets, parking lots. (Justin Rcmd. article)

Effects of Street Tree Shade on Asphalt Concrete Pavement Performance. (Justin Rcmd article) 

EPA: Using Trees and Vegetation to reduce heat islands. 
  • Reduced pavement maintenance: Tree shade can slow deterioration of street pavement, decreasing the amount of maintenance needed.
Environmental Benefits of Trees in Urban Areas. 

American Public Works Association: Urban Forestry: Benefits and drawbacks of city trees. 

SB Tree Canopy Assessment by SB Stormwater Services

SB Tree Canopy Assessment prepared by Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Laboratory

Urban Natural Resources Stewardship  USDA Forest Service

Economic Benefits of Urban Forests

Respondents claimed they would be willing to pay more for parking in a well landscaped business district. This suggests greater revenues from shaded parking would offset the costs of parking space loss, a frequent objection to trees by merchants.
McPherson and Simpson (1999) reported that where streets needed to be overlaid or slurry sealed every 7 to 10 years when in full sun, refurbishment of pavement under dense shade may be deferred to every 20 to 25 years.

Northeast Community Tree Guide. Benefits, Cost, and Strategic Planning. 
Tree shade on streets can help offset pavement management costs by protecting paving from weathering. The asphalt paving on streets contains stone aggregate in an oil binder. Tree shade lowers the street surface temperature and reduces heating and volatilization of the binder (McPherson and Muchnick 2005). As a result, the aggregate remains protected for a longer period by the oil binder. When unprotected, vehicles loosen the aggregate, and much like sandpaper, the loose aggregate grinds down the pavement. Because most weathering of asphalt-concrete pavement occurs during the first 5 to 10 years, when new street tree plantings provide little shade, this benefit mainly applies when older streets are resurfaced

Parking lot Design Issues: Trees  Rcmd by Justin
Includes "Fact Sheet #3: Making Parking Lots More Tree Friendly 

Evaluating Parking Lot Shading Rcmd by Justin

Green Parking Lot Resource Guide Rcmd by Justin
 Unattractive expanses of pavement placed in front of buildings create voids and disconnectedness, discouraging pedestrian-friendly communities and alternative methods of transport. The presence of multiple conventional parking lots can also signal developers that a community accepts urban sprawl development. This signal can create a cyclical effect on a community’s future development patterns. Subsequent developments in these areas are far more likely to have a similar pattern of urban sprawl, further disconnecting the link with any older non-sprawl development, and eroding or precluding unique characteristics that establish a community’s sense of place.

Trees and sidewalk gardens increase revenues in shopping districts

  • Consumers have a 12% higher willingness to pay for goods and services in retail areas that have streetscape greening such as street trees and sidewalk gardens.

Request for additions to SB Comprehensive Plan 

Under the ‘Green’ goals of the SB 25 year comprehensive plan, please consider the following goals and objectives.  Thank You, Bernie Paquette, June 10, 2015.

1. Update zoning regulations requiring parking lots w> 28 spaces to have a min. of 15% of the interior contain landscaped islands VS what I believe is currently a 10% requirement.

2. Require landscaped islands meet the size the Arborist determines is necessary so one can reasonably expect the tree(s) planted in it to survive duration equal to its normal life expectancy.

3. Require a larger percentage of canopy trees in parking lots (through zoning regulations)-trees that can grow to provide large canopies for shade, both filtered shade trees and full shade trees.
Large trees provide the most benefits.
4.  Provide adequate operating budget for tree care and tree planting line item.  Currently the city does very little tree planting other than replacements. 

5. Optimize the SB tree nursery.

6. Recognize and prepare for *EAB (Emerald Ash Border) infestation. This will necessitate the removal and subsequent replacement of a large number of ash trees along city streets (currently about 15% of the city tree population).

7. Create performance standards guiding maintenance practices for both either commercial or private property. (To help insure actual landscapes reflect original engineer drawings submitted at time of site development.)

8. (added post final Comprehensive plan) 
Update parking lot landscape ordinance to require significant shading from trees. This cannot be met with perimeter row plantings.
-People appreciate a shady place to park.
-May extend life of parking lot surface.
-Island cooling affect.
-Some snow holding capacity.
-Encourages shoppers to linger.

SB Emerald Ash Borer Action Plan (As far as I know the City Council has yet to approve and adopt all or a portion of the City Arborist EAB plan.)
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an exotic wood boring beetle from Asia that was most likely introduced to North America in the 1990’s. The insect was first discovered in Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario in 2002. At the time of discovery, it was estimated that the insect had been present for roughly five years. Since its discovery, EAB has spread throughout the northeastern US and Canada, killing more than 50 million ash trees. While it has yet to be discovered in Vermont, EAB has been found nearby in the Hudson River Valley of New York, southern Quebec, and most recently in Connecticut, southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts. Discovery in Vermont is expected in the very near future. South Burlington currently has roughly 760 Ash trees along its streets and in its parks, comprising roughly 13% of the cities’ street and park tree population. To make matters worse, the vast majority of these trees are located in only 3 neighborhoods, Dorset Farms, Brand Farm and the Golf Course neighborhoods. The mortality of ash tree in these neighborhoods will result in a number of streets with no street trees and the loss of 50- 70% of the trees in the neighborhoods.

Discussion: While there are currently, no “cures” for EAB there are a number of strategies South Burlington could use to manage the effects of this exotic pest:
1. Removal and replacement of ash trees in fair to poor condition prior to EAB being detected in Vermont. This has been started in a very limited fashion mainly along Nowland Farm Road, utilizing trees from the TREEage community Tree Nursery as replacements. Public Works staff can accomplish removals and replanting but the city will need to budget for replacement planting stock. Systematic removal and replacement may also be advisable on streets where all the trees are ash. This might involve removal and replacement of every fourth or fifth tree on the street so that there would still be some trees on the street when the ash trees succumb to EAB.

 2. Interplant trees where possible on streets that are heavily planted with ash. Prime locations for this type of activity are street entrances and areas along streets where residences are absent and adequate spacing exists to provide a suitable planting site. Midland Avenue and areas along Nowland Farm Road are examples of streets where this strategy might be utilized. Again, Public Works staff can plant the trees but the city will have to budget for planting stock (a limited number of trees from the TREEage Community Nursery could be used for this purpose).

3. Once EAB has been found in the state, suitable ash trees can be injected with insecticides to protect suitable trees from EAB damage. Trees would have to be treated every 1-2 years one EAB has been detected within 15-20 miles of the city. While this may not be a long term strategy to manage EAB it will provide the city with a longer time frame to implement the previous strategies. It is also possible that this strategy could buy time in the event that other more effective, long term management options are discovered.

The primary cost of strategies 1 and 2 would be the cost of obtaining planting stock:
 1. Wholesale cost of 2-2.5 inch caliper balled and burlapped trees currently run $150-200.
2. Nursery stock planted in the TREEage Community Tree Nursery currently cost the city approximately $20 a piece. These small 4-5 foot trees are then planted in the nursery and maintained for 3-4 years until they achieve a size suitable to transplant onto city streets. Most of the maintenance is provided by volunteers with some advice and assistance from Public Works staff. We presently have the capacity to harvest 50-60 trees a year from the nursery.
 The primary cost associated with strategy number 3 is the purchase of pesticides to treat selected trees. There are several pesticides which can be used to control EAB, the most effective being a material called Tree-age (active ingredient emamactin benzoate).
 1. Using current pricing, material costs for this option would be approximately $3-6 per inch of trunk diameter i.e. a 10 inch diameter tree would cost $30-60 to treat. This treatment would be required every 2 years to ensure control.
All of the above costs are strictly material costs and do not include labor and equipment costs that would be provided by South Burlington Public Works. Contracting any of these services would most likely result in 300-400% increase in the above costs(this is a best guess estimate).
 In the near future South Burlington will be faced with the prospect of removing and replacing a significant number of street trees due to the infestation of Emerald Ash Borer. Adoption of some or all of the above listed management strategies willenable us to deal with this problem in a proactive manner, spreading costs over a longer time period.
TO SB Planning commission, (5/13/2014)

Please consider the following in order to help support a goal of more canopy trees and improved likelihood of trees (in parking lots and other business sites) reaching their full potential in dimension, age, and aesthetics. 

1.   Zoning change requiring parking lots w> 28 spaces to have a min. of 15% of the interior be landscaped islands VS what I believe is currently, a 10% requirement.

    2.   Require landscaped Islands meet the size the Arborist determines is necessary to reasonably expect the tree(s) planted in it to survive a duration equal to its normal life expectancy.

   3.   Require a larger % of canopy trees. Trees that can grow to provide large shade providing canopy's. (Filtered shade trees and full shade trees).

   4.   Add or update performance standards for tree maintenance (including addressing severe lower branch pruning for other than the health of the tree) of trees on commercial property. More specific requirements regarding tree maintenance and pruning (preventing aggressive pruning which defeats landscaping objectives).

  5.  Add or update tree ordinance goals to measure /evaluate it effectiveness and guiding tree planting and maintenance.

Hello City Council members and Mr. Dorn, I hope you get the chance to not only read my Green and Clean column (Who will speak for the trees) in todays The Other Paper, but also look at my blog posting of the same title.
The blog posting has many more photos of trees in the Univ. Mall which show of which I speak and prompt the question, "who will speak for the SB Urban trees?"

My hope is that more people speak up to businesses asking them to do a better job caring for trees on their properties, providing adequate growing space, replacing damaged, dying, and dead trees and planting trees that can become large canopy shade trees.

And I hereby ask the city of SB (council and development review board and others) to look ahead in anticipation of large tree loss due to invasive pests, and plan how the city will replace those expected losses.

I also encourage a review of the SB tree ordinance and related planning regulations along with the following considerations.

> Consider setting performance standards guiding maintenance practices on either commercial or private property.
    NOTE I have attached photos of trees in front of The Anchorage Inn on Dorset street. Notice how these once beautiful full trees were severely de- limbed, presumably to open the view to the building. Does this revised view meet what their original permit intended?

Set development regulations with minimums set for planter islands (within parking lots) - capacity and quantity.

> Encourage more canopy -large shade trees in parking lots.

>Fund enforcement of tree regulations to help insure businesses maintain the landscapes according to their zoning permits-over time.

> Increase the city tree budget to include a tree replacement line item, and for an increased city tree population.

> Seek a coalition of the community garden volunteers and the public to achieve a larger bank of trees in the community garden earmarked for public-city planting in the future. Maybe citizens could be encouraged to donate trees (Inexpensive Bare root trees from WNRCD to larger caliber trees). The smaller trees to be grown and maintained at the community garden till mature enough to be planted in the city
Tom H. does the city (arborist or other) have short and long-term plans to plant trees inside the SB watershed (streams and Winooski River watershed) in order to help reduce storm-water runoff, lower water treatment costs, and help the city comply with state and federal water quality requirements? And if not, why not- what are the barriers?

We are subject to many different regulatory programs. While some of these programs require that we maintain and protect stream buffers, none of them actually give credit or otherwise incentivize tree planting. While it is roundly recognized that a robust tree canopy has many different benefits, including benefits for stormwater management, the State regulatory programs do not “credit” this activity. In fact, development of the tree canopy layer and the data that I directed you towards was part of an attempt we made to show DEC a method for measuring Tree Canopy. It was our hope that this could potentially lead to a method for giving us “credit” for increased canopy and tree planting. DEC has not moved this forward to date. However, they are currently working on an update to the State Stormwater Management Manual. It is possible that the revised manual will include some kind of “tree credit”, but we won’t know until they publish a draft. ~Tom H. SG Storm-water Services.