Greening the Capital "By-Cycle"

Image via Casey Trees YouTube channel.

While Washington DC’s annual Cherry Blossom festival draws in crowds from all over the world, most of the year the city’s foliage goes relatively unnoticed. Casey Trees, a local non-profit, is finding creative ways to bring attention back to the importance of urban greenery. Trees are immensely beneficial in urban areas as they absorb carbon dioxide, provide clean air and habitat for wildlife, reduce the amount of rain run-off , and even have profound psychological impacts such as reducing stress, lowering crime, and encouraging communities to come outside.

As Casey Trees seeks to “restore, enhance, and protect” trees within DC, they also get honorable mention for the use of sustainable transportation through their Water By-Cycle idea. In the “25 to Stay Alive” campaign, interns navigate through crowded city streets on bicycles with 6-foot trailers filled with mulch, water, safety cones, and outreach materials, in order to provide trees the 25 gallons of water they need each week to survive. Watering the trees “by cycle” is indeed the most practical solution especially in regions of the city where street parking is extremely difficult, such as Georgetown, Eckington park, Downtown, Columbia Heights, and Dupont Circle.

Image via Casey Trees Web site.

Image via Casey Trees Web site.

In addition to its creative use of bicycles, Casey Trees has an elaborate Web site informing and engaging the public in its goals of increasing the urban tree canopy (UTC) coverage in the nation’s capital from 35% to 40% in the next 10 years (translating into about 8,600 new planted trees each year.) Using spatial analysis tools in cooperation with the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of the Environmental and Natural Resources, Casey Trees conducted a comprehensive analysis on UTC in the district, indicating where the canopy needs more trees (along with other extensive research about the benefits of a strong UTC.) Most remarkably, Casey Trees engages community members of all types in expanding the UTC. Summer interns from local high schools maintain trees, local volunteers can learn to plant trees, and educational programs are designed to engage everyone.

For more information on the benefits of UTC or on Casey Tree programs, please consult their full Web site. Or watch a video slideshow of their spring 2008 highlights below:

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