Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Durham's Tree Canopy Replacement Program Needs Support

Durham Councilman Steve Schewel spoke about the city's replacement program for trees at Tuesday's DCGC meeting at the Hill House. Mr. Schewel encouraged all garden clubs and residents to appeal to the City Council and request tree funding be allocated in the 2016 budget.

By Shelley Deckker
Blossom Garden Club


Durham is losing its tree canopy at an alarming rate.  The thousands of mature willow oaks planted along city streets in the 1930s by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) are dying from age, disease, drought, storm damage, and improper pruning by Duke Energy.

The Durham Environmental Affairs Board issued a report on Durham’s tree canopy in 2015.  Their findings indicate that in order to maintain the current tree canopy on public land over the next 20 years, Durham will need to remove 750 trees per year and plant 1680 trees per year.  In the past year, about 500 trees were removed and 950 planted by the City’s Urban Forestry Department.

The Urban Forestry Department’s budget has remained stagnant since 2010, while the number of tree removals has increased dramatically each year.  The small staff is strapped just to keep up with removals, and the lack of functioning, well-maintained heavy equipment to do their job often puts their work at a standstill.  They have little to no resources for tree planting and healthy tree maintenance.


The Durham Council of Garden Clubs and its member clubs have long been involved in tree planting in Durham.  The tree canopy is of vital importance to the health and well-being of all of Durham.  Maintaining a healthy tree canopy should be an ongoing and long-term priority of the DCGC.

The urban forestry department needs a larger budget, but before they will be given a larger budget, the City needs to fund a tree inventory and master plan for the Durham’s urban forest.  We need all DCGC garden clubs and members to write to the mayor and city council members to request funding for the tree inventory and master plan.  It would be especially helpful for members to come to “Coffees with Council” to tell the council members in person that we care about our tree canopy. 
These dates and places can be found here: http://durhamnc.gov/DocumentCenter/View/8489
To email City Council members as a group:  council@durhamnc.gov
or individually:

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