Peter’s Take: DPR Misled County Board, Public on Parks Plan

January 17, 2019

Friends of Norfolk’s Environment see a larger tree canopy in the city

January 6, 2019

The Virginian-Pilot

Trees: The Best Carbon Sequestration Method to Fight Climate Change

December 22, 2018

Though not recognized as being solar-powered, carbon-sequestration devices, trees perform this essential task every day of their lives. Rather than building expensive, human-engineered “solutions,” we must take better advantage (and care) of what the good lord has already given us. Wishing you all happy holidays and a greener 2019! —Suzanne Sundburg

The Best Technology for Fighting Climate Change Isn’t a Technology

Forests are the most powerful and efficient carbon-capture system on the planet

Recent scientific research confirms that forests and other “natural climate solutions” are absolutely essential in mitigating climate change, thanks to their carbon sequestering and storage capabilities. In fact, natural climate solutions can help us achieve 37 percent of our climate target, even though they currently receive only 2.5 percent of public climate financing.

Here’s a quote from the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation:

However we don’t have to wait for high tech sequestration. We can increase carbon sequestration now by working with some experts. They’re called trees, and they have almost 350 million years’ experience in sequestering carbon. Trees, like other green plants, use photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into sugar, cellulose and other carbon-containing carbohydrates that they use for food and growth. Trees are unique in their ability to lock up large amounts of carbon in their wood, and continue to add carbon as they grow.[Alternately, cutting down trees releases CO2.]

And the Alabama Forestry Commission provided calculations to determine tree biomass and directly measure the carbon storage of trees: [Hint: The larger the tree, the more carbon it stores.]

If both New York and Alabama can agree on trees’ value in carbon sequestration, then Arlington County should be able to grasp this important concept. If you want to fight climate change, you need to preserve your mature tree canopy and improve the long-term survival of the new trees being planted. Below are a couple of after-and-before pictures from the Lubber Run community center site:

Lubber Run Site - Old Driveway - was the parking lot area

Lubber Run Site – Old Driveway – was the parking lot area

12-19-18 Community Center’s driveway apron on N. Park Drive (N. Geo. Mason Drive is a couple hundred yards to the right)

2017-07 Mid-block crossing looking from Barrett on Park Dr

2017-07 Mid-block crossing looking from Barrett on Park Dr

And here’s the same area (the driveway apron is to the right) taken in July 2017.

Audrey Moore, Fairfax County supervisor and environmentalist, dies at 89

(December 19, 2018)


ATAG member Angela Dickey thanks Board member John Vihstadt for his work on complex issues including climate change and storm water runoff.

ATAG's Angela Dickey thanks John Vihstadt

ATAG’s Angela Dickey thanks John Vihstadt

Recap of 11/17 County Board Meeting;
see you at 12/15 CB meeting!  
Stand up for green space at 12/15 county board meeting as 
Arlington deals with development, Amazon, etc! 
At the Nov. 15th County Board meeting, in a meeting room packed with residents galvanized by the prospect of Amazon coming to Arlington, Board members heard citizens concerned about: impacts of HQ2; loss of trees in parks; need for an open POPS process and improved scheduling of field use; lack of transparency; and other challenges.
Video at link below, along with a link to County page on Amazon.
Among Public Comments raised: Friends of Upton Hill, with ATAG standing in support, expressed alarm at non-transparent decisions affecting tree loss and cost increases at this NoVa Park; a call for an “inclusive” POPS process that includes improved accuracy of field use scheduling; and a citizen saying he and his wife had to leave Arlington because they could not afford a studio in Crystal City (pre-HQ2).
Regarding residents accessing confidentiality agreements regarding HQ2, several Board members stated most negotiating was done “at the State level.”  County attorney agreed they were not privy to a lot of pertinent information; one Member cited a “firewall” between what the State and County knew.
Following discussion of the major delay in construction of a Courthouse Plaza amenity, the one independent Member posited the site plan for the project was not being taken “seriously” and urged greater attention to transparency and implementation of plans. Mr. Vihstadt applauded the Manager appointing an Open Data Advisory Committee; at the same time, he noted Arlington meets just 9 of the 31 metrics the Sunlight Foundation set in its Open Data Policy Guidelines. Manager indicated that meeting such metrics is “not the only thing” staff have to spend time and energy on, and referred to “privacy aspects.”  Manager is invited to give the Board an update on the Open Data initiative at the Board meeting on December 15.
Speaking of the CB meeting on Saturday, Dec.15, (Public Comment at 8:30 am), at 2100 Clarendon Blvd, Rm 307, we hope some of you are free to speak on protecting our green infrastructure and support other speakers. Join us, too, after CB meeting– we will meet at nearby at Corner Bakery (2111 Wilson Blvd) to review priority steps to protect our environment–for us, and generations to come. Planning for big changes makes attending CB meetings and discussing next steps especially timely.
11/17/18 County Board Meeting:

Healthy, large, mature trees destroyed to build a parking lot at Lubber Run Park

(September 21, 2018)

Tree destruction at Lubber Run

Tree slaughter at Lubber Run Park

Tree destruction at Lubber Run

Tree slaughter at Lubber Run Park

Tree destruction at Lubber Run

More tree destruction at Lubber Run Park

Tree destruction at Lubber Run

Even more tree destruction at Lubber Run Park

Tree destruction at Lubber Run Park

Tree slaughter at Lubber Run Park

Tree destruction at Lubber Run Park

Tree slaughter at Lubber Run Park

Tree destruction at Lubber Run Park

Fencing around the tree massacre at Lubber Run Park

Tree destruction at Lubber Run Park

Lubber Run Park closed during the tree slaughter.

“Don’t it always seem to go,

“That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.

“They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.”

Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell

December 2, 2018 update from Suzanne Sundburg:

Arlington County government’s war on trees rages on……Lubber Run clearcutting, Nov / Dec 2018

Every tree & every living thing in the red outlined areas has been removed.
Lubber Run clearcut areas

Lubber Run clearcut areas

Lubber Run clearcut areas 2

Lubber Run clearcut areas 2

Lubber Run clearcut areas 3

Lubber Run clearcut areas 3

Lubber Run clearcut areas 4

Lubber Run clearcut areas 4

Lubber Run clearcut areas 5

Lubber Run clearcut areas 5

Lubber Run clearcut areas 6

Lubber Run clearcut areas 6

Lubber Run clearcut areas 7

Lubber Run clearcut areas 7

It is up to 17 degrees hotter than the coolest areas inside the District.

(October 16, 2018)

Letter to the Washington Post

You can address climate change at the local level by defending trees

(October 15, 2018)

Washington Post, Speaking of Science

(October 15, 2018)

Falls Church News-Press, Our Man in Arlington

Charlie Clark:  Roaring Suburban Leaf-Blowers (September 26, 2018)

UVA loves its trees:

Living Legends:
The Trees of Grounds

(Fall 2018)

Washington Post:  Bye bye bugs? Scientists fear non-pest insects are declining  

(September 20, 2018)

Another reason for preserving mature trees:  

CNN: Air pollution particles found in mothers’ placentas, new study finds

(September 17, 2018)

Washington Post:

‘I don’t want to die’: As the country bakes, studies show poor city neighborhoods are often much hotter than wealthy ones (September 2, 2018)

Letter: Planting new trees in place of razed ones is not a solution (August 29, 2018)


(August 21, 2018)

Champion Dawn Redwood destroyed

Virginia Champion Dawn Redwood shortly before it was destroyed

Champion Dawn Redwood being destroyed

Champion Dawn Redwood being destroyed

Champion Dawn Redwood being destroyed

Champion Dawn Redwood being destroyed

Champion Dawn Redwood being destroyed

Champion Dawn Redwood being destroyed

Arlington County government vehicle watches as Dawn Redwood is destroyed

Arlington County employee in government vehicle watches as Dawn Redwood (at left) is destroyed.

Dawn Redwood destruction

Dawn Redwood destruction

ARLINGTON CONNECTION:  Not Just a Tree; A Precedent (August 29, 2018)

VIDEO — LOCAL  Despite strong opposition 114-foot Redwood Dawn Tree gets cut down

(August 22, 2018)

Workers Start Cutting Down Large Dawn Redwood Tree in Williamsburg (August 21, 2018)


Massive Dawn Redwood Tree in Williamsburg Set to be Chopped Down (August 17, 2018)

ATAG Press Release in response to County’s Abdication of Responsibility for the Dawn Redwood (August 16, 2018)

Charlie Clark, Our Man in Arlington:  Arlington faces tough choices between money and environmentalism (July 18, 2018)

Arlington Connection:  Battling for the Dawn Redwood (July 18, 2018)

Local  Arlington residents speak out against idea of cutting down 114-foot Redwood tree (July 11, 2018)

WUSA9 TV:  114-foot tall redwood tree may be cut down in Arlington, sparking controversy

(July 7, 2018)


What Are D.C.’s Hottest Neighborhoods? Science Wants To Know (August 30, 2018)

Yale Climate Connections:  

American cities are losing 28 million trees a year

Goodbye, shade.

(August 29, 2018)

Peter’s Take: Can This Tree Be Saved? (August 9, 2018)

Washington Post:  The horticulture industry’s age problem is bigger than you think (August 6, 2018)

Peter’s Take: Salt Dome Fiasco — There’s a Better Way (August 2, 2018)

ATAG stands up for trees

(July 14, 2018)

Testifying to the Arlington County Board — 

Testifying to Arlington County Board

Testifying to the Arlington County Board

Testifying to Arlington County Board

Testifying to the Arlington County Board

Being interviewed by an “Arlington Connection” reporter — 

ATAG speaking with an "Arlington Connection reporter

ATAG speaking with an “Arlington Connection” reporter

The Dawn Redwood we’re trying to save:

The Champion Dawn Redwood

The Champion Dawn Redwood

Arlington board takes flak on multiple fronts from tree activists (July 17, 2018)

Comment on this article:  There are plenty of things the board could do to encourage the preservation of trees, if it were so motivated. Here are but a few:

Despite lingering concerns among some, Upton Hill park plan moves forward (July 10, 2018)

Arlington Department of Environmental Services (July 2, 2018): 

Arlington’s impervious surfaces increasing year by year; now at estimated 45%compared to estimated 40% in 2001.

NPR All Things Considered:  How Phoenix Is Trying To Keep People Cool As Temperatures Rise

(July 9, 2018)

“But most of all . . . the city needs a lot more trees.”

Key points:

[David] Hondula [Arizona State University professor] attributes about half of this to climate change and the rest to the built environment. Those parking lots and wide roads, strip malls and air conditioners all keep the city hotter, what’s called the urban heat island effect, especially overnight.

Scientific American:  U.S. Cities Lose Tree Cover Just When They Need It Most

Urbanization is on the rise; so is the urban heat island effect—a situation that is worsening with the decline of tree cover in U.S. metropolitan areas

(May 7 2018)

ATAG is now a member of the Arlington County Civic Federation – as of May 1, 2018! See the May 2018 CivFed Newsletter.

Sheffield’s tree massacre: How locals battled to protect Europe’s greenest city

Mass arrests, poisoned-tea plots and the unravelling of a secret £2.2bn PFI contract. Colin Drury delves into the inside story of the battle to save 17,500 trees being felled in a single city

(April 12, 2018)

Local newspaper cartoonist James Whitworth’s take on the Sheffield tree massacre (James Whitworth):

Free — Large trees planted in your yard.  

Check out the Arlington Tree Canopy Fund.

Arlington County Urban Tree Canopy Assessment(December 2017) 

Although the County is interpreting and publicizing the Assessment as showing that our urban forest has grown one percent since 2011 in the face of continuing population growth and development, this conclusion is not justified by the Assessment itself.  For one thing, one percent is within the Assessment’s margin of error.  For another, the 2017 and 2011 studies used different methodologies, so precise comparisons are not warranted.

The real headline is that many neighborhoods have suffered significant tree losses since the last report in 2011. See the map at page 10 of the 2017 Assessment:

Tree canopy losses

Tree canopy losses

This is the message that matches what we are seeing in our neighborhoods as more and more trees are taken down.

The situation is even worse when compared to the 2008 report.

See additional responses to the Tree Canopy Assessment:

ATAG Media release concerning tree canopy assessment (April 12, 2018)

Natasha Atkins, Tree canopy report raises more questions than it answers (February 22, 2018)

Suzanne Smith Sundburg, Understanding Arlington’s 2017 Urban Tree Canopy Assessment

University of Vermont review of Tree Canopy Assessment (March 27, 2018)

Dispute over Arlington tree canopy heats up (April 23, 2018)

In midst of brouhaha, more Arlington trees designated ‘notable’ (April 26, 2018)

The problem with the County’s tree canopy report (April 28, 2018)

Pennsylvania could plant over 10 million trees in the next seven years for cleaner water and air

Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks identify a pattern of County errors that  consistently overestimated demand for recreational fields and narrowed supply, despite overwhelming resident feedback placing much higher priorities on other needs and park uses like trails and natural and open parkland.

March 2018 newsletter

April 2018 newsletter

‘Friends of Upton Hill’ Protest Park Paving Plans With New Website (April 3, 2018)

Non-Native Plants Removed Near Quincy Park  (March 29, 2018)

Despite some neighborly concerns, Upton Hill park project moving forward (March 20, 2018)

See also:  Friends of UH_Preserve the Park at Upton Hill_3-21-2018

and Friends of Upton Hill website

and Upton Hill Regional Park segment on the Sustainable Scoop

“Please Save Me” tree destroyed  (March 5, 2018)

On about March 1 a builder destroyed the beautiful magnolia tree noted below (December 15, 2017) that had worn a sign asking that it be spared.  Also destroyed was another wonderful tree in the back yard.  The entire home has now been bulldozed.

View from Williamsburg Blvd after trees destroyed

View from Williamsburg Blvd after trees destroyed

"Please Save Me" magnolia tree destroyed

“Please Save Me” magnolia tree destroyed

View of front yard after trees destroyed.

View of front yard after trees destroyed.

A remembrance of the lost magnolia tree: 


In regards to the magnolia tree at 6255 Williamsburg Blvd:

That was my childhood home from 1976 (moved with my mom when I was 3 into her mother’s house) through 1996 or so when I moved out on my own. That old magnolia was there through my childhood and along with those border hedges all the way around served as sort of a welcome flag every time we returned home. I can’t count how many times I swung on the lower branch going by and how many hours I spent throwing those cones the tree dropped everywhere when I was young. That tree stood right where you drove in to welcome you back in every season, recall it full and vibrant in the summer and snow covered and beautiful in the winter. It was there before me and it stood long after I left, had its own personality and life about it and although I had already seen on Google Earth from above that the house had been demolished it hit me especially hard to see that the old living magnolia was now gone forever. Thank you for your efforts to save it but progress yields to nothing I suppose, not even something alive and beautiful. I believe the absence of that old house and unique yard will forever change the landscape of that once quaint little circle where once upon a time Santa handed out presents on the island between Sharp Park and People’s Drug. Time moves on relentlessly but I’m still here for a bit longer to remember it all as it once was.



August 29, 2018

Charlie Clark article on the Arlington tree canopy (Falls Church News-Press February 6, 2018)

Eli Tucker article on Arlington’s tree canopy and how to preserve it (ARLnow February 6, 2018)

The Secret To Staying Happy Is Getting Whatever Exposure To Nature You Can Get (Fast Company February February 6, 2018)

Arlington Tree Action Group (ATAG) pleads for builder to save beautiful trees on Williamsburg Blvd (December 15, 2017) 

After we saw a poignant plea to save a possibly endangered tree — 

Please Save Me

Please Save Me

ATAG sent a letter to the responsible party requesting the tree be saved:

December 15, 2017

Sunil Saxena

20023 Belmont Station Drive

Ashburn, VA 20147-000

Dear Mr. Saxena,

On behalf of the Arlington Tree Action Group, a group of residents promoting the economic, health and other benefits of trees, we are writing to draw attention to trees we hope your company will save while developing the lot at 6255 Williamsburg Boulevard.

As you know, trees have tangible economic, health, and environmental benefits, as underscored again in recent research by Arlington County: It is also calculated that a mature tree adds 10K in property value.

In particular, please work to save the magnificent magnolia in the front corner of the property, on which an anonymous citizen posted a poignant sign: “Please Save Me.” By doing just that, and saving the small tree in the back corner, your company can be seen as:

–responsive to residents;

–understanding of the myriad benefits of mature trees;

–a trendsetter in building a community that seeks a future that is sustainable.

ATAG, web site, is developing an award for builders who preserve and care for trees.

One small act can have big returns.

Thank you for your consideration; we look forward to hearing from you.


Kit Norland           Bill Roos

Margie Bell           Angela Dickey

Mary Glass           Eric Ackerman      Natasha Atkins

Arlington Tree Action Group (ATAG)

Other views of the property:

At-risk trees, front and back yards

At-risk trees, front and back yards

At-risk property

At-risk property

Arlington Tree Action Group (ATAG) held a very successful event to rally support for preserving and growing Arlington’s urban forest.  (November 15, 2017)

See here for more information.

D.C. To Plant 100 New Trees A Day (October 12, 2017)

Arlington Tree Action Group (ATAG) spreads the tree message at

Marymount Farmers Market Saturday, September 9, 2017

ATAG volunteer explaining Donaldson Run issues at Marymount Farmers Market

ATAG volunteer at Marymount Farmers Market explaining threats to Donaldson Run trees

ATAG volunteers at Marymount Farmers Market

ATAG volunteers at Marymount Farmers Market

Join us in saving Arlington’s precious urban forest along Donaldson Run

Quartz Media:  Houston’s flooding shows what happens when you ignore science and let developers run rampant  (August 29, 2017)

Amanda Henneberg, Falls Church News-Press Guest Commentary: Change Course This Election & Hold Council Accountable (August 24, 2017)

Charlie Clark, Falls Church News-Press:  Arlington tree stewards band together under the banner of the Arlington Tree Action Group (August 15, 2017)

Good news:  Residents save a significant tree in Arlington! (August 11, 2017)

Peter’s Take:  Trees Die at Wakefield High (August 27, 2015)