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Planners Make Down-County Greener with Tree-Planting Program

by Valerie Berton on December 19th, 2012

SILVER SPRING – This week, some property owners in Silver Spring and Wheaton will be the recipients of new shade trees, courtesy of the Montgomery County Planning Department.

On Thursday, contractors will plant more than 30 beeches, oaks, elms and other native species to boost the amount of tree canopy in the areas of Montgomery County that need it most. Increasing the tree canopy brings a host of benefits, from reducing local greenhouse effects to providing an economic boon to businesses.

Planners and policy-makers have long made trees a priority in the county, with a strict Forest Conservation Law and Planning Board review of forest conservation plans during the development review process.

Yet, many of Montgomery County’s urban areas lack sufficient tree canopy cover, according to a 2011 analysis. The Planning Department-sponsored analysis, which used high-resolution aerial imagery to gather data on tree cover, revealed significantly lower cover in urban areas than most surrounding suburbs.

Why does that matter? Urban tree canopy improves water quality, reduces air pollution and decreases energy demand. Moreover, urban trees contribute to attractive, quality places that invite consumers to shop, dine and congregate.

Planners launched Shades of Green, which targets downtown Silver Spring, downtown Wheaton and the Montgomery Hills neighborhood, in September. By partnering with property owners to accept planted trees, planners are improving the look and feel of down-County urban districts. All trees will be three inches in diameter or greater, and come with two years of tree watering and maintenance. The Shades of Green website includes an application form for qualifying property owners.

The tree-planting program is financed through the Forest Conservation Fund, contributions paid during the development process to compensate for forest/tree loss and when tree-planting on site is impractical.

Property owners in the Central Business Districts of Silver Spring and Wheaton are encouraged to learn more and apply for trees .
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