Urban Forestry Today

Noonhour (Eastern) webcast series from Univ. of Massachusetts – July 9

Energy Benefits of Trees

On the July 09 ‘Urban Forestry Today’ Noonhour (Eastern) webcast, Prof. Benjamin S. Weil, PhD, Univ of Massachusetts, will discuss & detail research-based findings regarding potential impacts associated with residential utility costs and the effects of urban tree plantings.

For information and to participate, click HERE.

Letter: Dual-trail proposal requires much more study, input

Rick Epstein, Arlington


The core mission of NOVA Parks, of which Mr. Gilbert is the executive director, does not include transforming the Washington & Old Dominion Trail into a major commuter thoroughfare up to 26 feet wide, wider than some residential streets.

NOVA Parks has failed to develop an adequate needs analysis or conduct an environmental assessment; an alternatives analysis of other potentially viable, but less environmentally damaging approaches (including use of the parallel Four Mile Run Trail); or a comparative safety analysis. But, most importantly, NOVA Parks failed to first undertake to justify this proposal with our community and address all of these critical issues before submitting its funding application to Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA).



June 2020

Bob Cambridge Responses

Susan Cunningham Responses

Takis Karantonis Responses 

What is Arlington’s optimal population? Candidates won’t be pinned down


In a questionnaire, ATAG also quizzed the candidates on matters related to the future of the tree canopy in Arlington; the need for environmental assessments on county-government projects; and the preservation of natural resources when considering issues ranging from stormwater to traffic.


Arlington Civic Federation raps county leaders on open-space priorities


The president of the Arlington County Civic Federation on June 13 delivered his message quietly but bluntly: The county government needs to put much more emphasis on acquiring land for parks and open space before the window of opportunity closes.


Tree Fund Webinar

Tree Fund Webinar

For more information and to register, go HERE

TREE Fund Webinars

Peter’s Take: CivFed Resolution Provides Principles to Guide Future Park & Rec Investments


new report by the Civic Federation (CivFed report) analyzes Arlington’s recent historical spending on park and recreation investments funded with Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) bond dollars.

The CivFed report’s results are summarized in a table on page 1. Roughly 86% of all bond funds were dedicated to recreational uses. By contrast, less than 5% was spent on land acquisition and less than 2% was invested in open space and natural habitat.

Resource allocation mismatch

This funding allocation history is inconsistent with the public’s stated priorities for outdoor park and recreation investments, as determined by the County’s 2016 “statistically valid” survey, which ranked investments in trails, natural areas, and wildlife habitat as top priorities to satisfy unmet or partially unmet needs in our community.


Town Successfully Transplants 29 Trees Saved from Construction Project

A community cares enough to save trees from destruction —


Leesburg, VA (June 3, 2020) – The Town of Leesburg, with the help of Tree Movers, LLC, has successfully transplanted 29 trees, which were set to be removed as part of the Route 7 and Battlefield Interchange construction.

Rather than be cut down, the trees were relocated to the Route 15 Bypass/Battlefield interchange, Robinson Park, Raflo Park, and Ida Lee Park. 

Those “Well Meaning” Tree People

The Arlington Way – How Arlington Really Works, May 25, 2020


The Tree People (TTP) have been playing by the rules with overly civil and agreeable tactics including writing letters, hosting meetings with the elected officials and trying to use facts and data to build a case. They are the receivers of sympathetic looks and phrasing like “we agree with you, but our project is more important to the youth.” The irony is that the small group of TTP are largely childfree and making the case that saving the trees will benefit kids in both the short term (asthma, air quality, etc) as well as the long term (infrastructure and long term planning).

TTP are super nice people, they aren’t zealots, they aren’t anti growth, anti development, anti schools or anti sports. TTP are pro-planning for a better Arlington. The data reveals that mature trees are critical in storm water run off and that while infrastructure like tiling and terraces can mitigate the damage caused by overdevelopment, it is the mature trees that will soak up the most water and have the largest impact. When you cut down a healthy mature tree, Arlington needs to spend a lot of money to move that water down to the Potomac and the water that we are sending down is coated in all of the grime that is on our streets. A rain garden or three young trees will not take the place of a mature tree.

Tree preservation is not a priority of Arlington or NVPA. The county officials say it is, but their actions do not align with their words.

John Glenn’s Arlington Home and Beautiful Mature Trees Destroyed 

May 29, 2020

This historic home, just across from Williamsburg Middle School, has now been torn down.  John Glenn’s beautiful mature trees are being destroyed as well.  Photos by Gary Anthes.


Arlington ranks high for parks, but there’s room for improvement

The Washington Post, May 25, 2020

Letter to the Editor from ATAG member Mary Glass

The May 20 Metro article “D.C. falls from atop best-parks list; Arlington at No. 4” commended Arlington County for its fourth-place ranking among 100 U.S. cities. This ranking by the Trust for Public Lands relies heavily on active recreational amenities but does not include other essential valuations for open space and natural areas.

Arlington gets and deserves high marks for its park facilities and programming; however, it ranked 38th in park acreage. The county’s own 2016 citizen survey showed that natural areas and hiking trails were overwhelmingly needed and favored for future investment.

The Arlington County Civic Federation recently passed a resolution asking that more money be dedicated to the purchase of parkland for open space and natural areas. Despite this, Arlington’s capital budgets and spending for land acquisitions have been scarce. Numerous county master-plan components recommend parkland acquisitions as a priority. Arlington, as a true “world-class” place, has the opportunity to substantially improve its acreage ranking above 38th.

Mary Glass, Arlington


ATAG testifies at NOVA Transportation Authority Meeting on Threats to Trees From Widening the W&OD Bike Path

May 14, 2020

My name is Susan Land and my comments are in reference to project number NOV 002, “Arlington W&OD Trail Enhancements”. 

I am here as a representative of the Arlington Tree Action Group (ATAG). The goal of our organization is to protect and maintain mature trees in Arlington to:

prevent flooding,

improve our environment and air,

protect against creating urban heat islands,

and because 40 – 50 year old trees are simply not replaceable.

We have great concerns about the number of publicly owned mature trees that could be damaged or removed for this trail widening project.

Of particular concern are the following areas:

  • Mile 5 – Brandymore Castle Hill – Hundreds of large mature trees cover the Brandymore Castle Hill, several of which also line the bike path.
  • Mile 3.75 – Bon Air Park – The majority of this park exists in both a flood plain and a Resource Protection Area. Large trees surround the banks of Four Mile Run creek.
  • Mile 3.5 – Bluemont Park – This park also resides in a flood plain and has a designated Resource Protection Area that crosses the existing bike trail. The risk of flooding here due to tree loss and increased paved surfaces is enormous.
  • Mile 3.0 – Carlin Springs Rd – This area is identified as a FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area.

Even if trees are not directly in the 22 foot right of way for this expanded bike trail, adjacent trees will certainly be damaged or destroyed by construction cutting into their root systems, construction equipment movement and staging, and the requisite clearing and mowing that may reach up to 3 feet beyond the new paved area.

Before this project is approved we are asking NOVA Transportation Authority to insist that NOVA Parks do the following:

  1. Conduct a full environmental assessment including a tree survey. The tree survey should list the number of mature trees to be removed for this project and the impact that will have on storm water management.
  2. Identify what percentage of the construction and land disturbance will be in a designated Resource Protection Area or a FEMA Identified Flood Zone and make this number known to the public.
  3. Meet with all relevant Arlington county commissions including:
    1. The Urban Forestry Commission
    2. The Environment and Energy Conservation Commission (E2C2)
    3. And The Natural Resources Joint Advisory Group

To get their feedback before design work begins.

Both Bluemont and Bon Air parks were acquired by Arlington County specifically because they are in flood zones and must be preserved to absorb and contain flood waters.

The removal of mature trees and the increase in impervious surfaces in these parks increase the risk of damaging floods in the future.

We ask that NOVA Transportation Authority not fund this project until the environmental impacts of this project are carefully considered. Hundreds of mature publicly owned trees could be removed as a result.



Share Your Thoughts on the Met Park Public Space Draft Design Concepts

Check out the two new draft design concepts for the Metropolitan Park Public Space!  The County will be taking comments through May 14.

The Metropolitan Park Public Space project is a joint effort between JBG Smith and Arlington County as part of the Board approved Met Park Redevelopment Project. . . . The existing two-acre park, will be increased by .56 acres and design for the park will be informed by approved site plan conditions and community input.

Mighty oaks are not as mighty as homebuilders with chainsaws. Still, tree policy changes are a-blooming.

Our Man in Arlington

Falls Church News-Press

In the latest in Arlington’s tree wars, homeowners at 5920 N. 35th St. joined with passionate volunteers from the Arlington Tree Action Group to sound alarms over the threat to a towering water oak outside their home of 28 years, which might soon be a tear-down.


Bats, insects, coyotes, other wildlife make cities their homes. Urban communities are encouraging this.

March 23, 2020 

The Washington Post

The nation’s capital is turning drainage ditches into meandering waterways buffered by vegetation, making them more hospitable to birds, fish and reptiles. Instead of mowing the grass, it’s turning open green spaces into meadows filled with plants for pollinators. And it’s encouraging residents to plant milkweed, which has been a boon to monarch butterflies.

The District is an urban paradise for many wild animals, and it’s at the forefront of nationwide efforts to make cities and suburbs better places for wildlife.


Hope measure would address tree-preservation efforts

  • March 23, 2020

Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) this session shepherded legislation through the General Assembly adding preservation of mature trees, as well as the planting of new trees, to the list of activities that the State Water Resources Board is directed to encourage local governments to consider when addressing development in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The measure “is more a policy statement than anything else,” Hope acknowledged. “But it does send a clear signal to local governments that tree preservation is a legitimate tool to improve water quality and to protect the Chesapeake Bay, and one in which local governments should consider in their plans.”



March 10, 2020

ATAG on SustainableScoop

ATAG on SustainableScoop

Join Miriam Gennari as she catches up with Mary Glass of Arlington Tree Action Group (ATAG). You’ll learn more about the important work citizens are doing to preserve and grow Arlington, Virginia’s urban forest. Once you understand the many benefits trees offer to Arlington residents, workers and visitors you’ll want to join them in their mission to keep Arlington green and fulfill the Vision stated in the County’s Urban Forest Master Plan.  Then subscribe to the SustainableScoop before leaving the channel to keep up with new developments on the environment.


It’s time for Arlington to take a progressive stance on information access

The Arlington Way – How Arlington Really Works, February 17, 2020


In a search for basic information regarding , I was told I would have to FOIA it. WHAT?!?!?! Why would I have to FOIA anything that should be easily accessible on a website? Furthermore, why would I have to pay for it?! 

Ambitious Louisville study seeks to understand impact of trees on our health

PBS News Hour

Trees can add beauty and serenity to a neighborhood — but can they also improve the health of its residents? In Kentucky, the University of Louisville — with help from the National Institutes of Health and The Nature Conservancy — aims to find out. Called Green Heart Louisville, the initiative involves a large-scale scientific study of how greenspaces affect public health. John Yang reports.




ATAG Advocates for largest Water Oak in Arlington
March 4, 2020
Saving Water Oak

Saving Largest Water Oak in Arlington

Patti and John, long-time residents who are looking at retirement, asked ATAG to help protect a beloved Water Oak that turns out to be the largest known in Arlington. ATAG urged Patti to invite an arborist to evaluate the oak, and media to cover it. March 4, Stave Nagy, Davey Tree Expert Company, assessed the tree as healthy, with a strong root flare and stretch marks indicating active wood production. Working in Arlington, Steve finds big trees typically in a 38”-45” range; at 60” DBH, this Water Oak is a rarity! He estimates it is 175-210 years old.

In the picture, Steve describes the oak’s health to Adrian Higgins, The Washington Post garden columnist. Next steps to protect the tree are being assessed. Patti is pleased that the media plans to follow the story of defending her oak–“such a valuable resource to our home, that saved us thousands in utility bills, provides shelter for all kinds of wildlife, and brings a feeling of being established in the neighborhood.”

As Patti further notes: “The knowledge we are only stewards of this tree, and must eventually pass it on to someone else, spurred us to try and make sure it remains standing and in good health. We live in an area that faces enormous developer pressure, and we also know Arlington county provides no protection against developers clear-cutting the lots they obtain (a $2500 fine for violation is a mere cost of doing business for the developers).”


The Arlington Connection: 

Champion Water Oak Provides Wildlife Habitat in Arlington

By Shirley Ruhe

March 15, 2020

Patricia Teutsch and John Malerich own the property where the tree is located and where they have lived for 28 years. She says their yard has been a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat for several years and they cultivate it to attract bees, their pileated woodpeckers, blue jays and nuthatches and the chipmunks, raccoons and foxes that inhabit the backyard. “The other day we had three deer lying in our Joe Pye weed for most of the afternoon.”


Money trees: U.S. cities find new ways of valuing urban forests

Thursday, 20 February 2020

“Should city officials treat urban trees as core infrastructure – as a utility themselves?” ATAG weighs in.

Yet there often remains a gap between rhetoric and reality on the issue of urban trees, researchers and activists warn – like in the leafy D.C. suburb of Arlington, Virginia, which activists worry is becoming less leafy by the day.

Kit Norland of the citizen-run Arlington Tree Action Group said official figures show impervious surface area – covered in materials such as concrete and brick – has been expanding in the city by about nine acres (four hectares) per year.

“Trees are an afterthought,” she said.

During Kojo Nnamdi’s Feb. 4 show on climate change, an ATAG caller helped sharpen focus on the need to preserve tree canopy to fight climate change. Responding to the ATAG caller’s plea for political will to protect urban trees, author Tom Horton said the caller is “on to something good” and listed myriad tree benefits. He also said he agrees with a friend who proudly displays a bumper sticker: “Trees Are The Answer.”

Polluted, damaged streams in Chesapeake region at center of debate over cleanup

Antonio Olivo 

The Washington Post

Jan. 25, 2020

Rod Simmons, a plant ecologist who works for the city of Alexandria, said the cumulative damage to the region’s tree canopy because of stream restorations over the years should be alarming to local government officials.

[P]olluted water still comes gushing down a long concrete chute from a nearby school parking lot during heavy storms.

“They’re not fixing the source of the problem,” said Anderko, a Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies professor who focuses on the public health effects of climate change. “If we’re doing this in the name of the environment, then we should be very thoughtful about how we’re going about it.”

We don’t need to just plant trees. We also need to take care of them.

Jan. 30, 2020
The Washington Post

Scientists are learning that large, old trees are the most valuable, especially in cities. They capture the most storm water and take the most pressure off our overtaxed streams and rivers. They put on wood fastest and take the most carbon out of the air. They harbor the most wildlife. They can lower summer temperatures by 20 degrees or more. They raise property values.

County has identified 25 County properties, including parks, that could be made available to meet the growing need for school seats. 

Suzanne Smith Sundburg comments on the County Manager’s November 18, 2019 letter 

January 20, 2020

JFAC and APS have been working on plans to use public parkland as sites for new public school construction — an extension of the Public Land for Public Good process. This is a continuation of the repurposing of parkland on the Thomas Jefferson site and the combined project that reduced the amount of scarce, publicly owned and accessible parkland on the Wilson School site in Rosslyn.

Not only does building on the modest acreage of County Board-owned public parkland increase impervious surfaces and reduce mature tree canopy (undermining our parks’ usefulness as mitigation against flooding, the urban heat island effect, climate change and air pollution), it also reduces the amount of green and open space that would otherwise be available for full public use and access (schools retain priority use of school grounds and facilities for students).

Though we can all agree that ever-increasing school enrollment must be addressed with additional classroom space, APS has persisted in building out and maximizing building and infrastructure footprints on its own sites. Part of the reason stems from the cost of building up. But part is also due to APS’s unwillingness to use its own land more efficiently because it views public parkland as a “free” land bank that permits it to continue its wasteful and destructive land-use practices.

The FY2019–2028 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) contains $0 for the acquisition of new public parkland, and there is increasingly less open land available to purchase for parks. So the use of existing park space for schools will likely result in the permanent loss of public parkland.

Below is a map (contained in the attached letter) of the parks being targeted for school construction. Please remember that staff has eliminated the height limits and reduced building setbacks for school construction on public parkland. Essentially, there is no limit either on building footprints or height for new school buildings and associated infrastructure that are constructed in our public parks.


Letter: Residents owed explanation over loss of Arlington trees


Jan 22, 2020

I generally trust government, and give the county government the benefit of the doubt. But it is both disappointing and alarming to have several 70-year-old trees – which reduced the sight, sound and smell of heavy traffic – suddenly and irrevocably removed with no explanation.

At the December 14 County Board meeting, ATAG calls for more urban foresters as Single Family Plan Reviews jump from

241 (2016) to 293 (2018)

Click HERE for ATAG PowerPoint presentation.

Appreciating the need for — and the beauty of — the urban forest

By Adrian Higgins 

The Washington Post, December 11, 2019

One thing seems certain: The need for street trees is only going to get greater. They shade, they cool, they grab carbon from the atmosphere. Oh, and they can be beautiful if spared the butchery of life with the aerial power line. A 2015 study confirmed what we might have already known — people who live in the shelter of mature trees are healthier than folks in neighborhoods that don’t have them.

Upton Hill tree cutting begins soon — 3 maples+ will be lost!  NOVA Parks blames the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Friends of Upton Hill, December 9, 2019

A treeless, ugly flat space coming soon


Despite efforts to increase Philadelphia’s tree canopy, the city has lost the equivalent of 1,000 football fields worth of leafy shade in the last 10 years.

So the city is creating a 10-year Urban Forest plan to reverse the trend.

To create the [Tree Canopy Assessment Report], the city commissioned the University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Lab, which used aerial imagery, light detection, and ranging (LiDAR) data.

 Potomac Yard Metro Station Alternative B

November 2019

The City of Alexandria, WMATA, and Coalition for Smarter Growth, among others, are risking public safety in their push to build the Potomac Yard Metro Station Alternative B (PYMS) on top of wetlands in a floodplain of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. … [The proposal] will destroy functioning forested floodplain and wetlands, significantly increase impervious surface runoff, and degrade adjoining freshwater tidal wetlands by using them for stormwater management – all greatly exacerbating dangerous flooding along the parkway and serious threats to public safety.” WTOP news story also at link.

How Baltimore is saving urban forests – and its city

By Correspondent

The Christian Science Monitor

June 10, 2019

In 2006, though, the Forest Service, working with researchers from the University of Vermont’s spatial analysis lab, put together a new type of land cover map in Baltimore using a combination of aerial imagery, light-reflecting technology, and high-resolution landowner data. This novel approach not only allowed a closer look at trees, it also let scientists synchronize forest maps with other information that was also newly computerized and manipulable – everything from health records to census figures, crime statistics to property values.


Arlington County’s Tree Canopy Fund Program  

Arlington Department of Environmental Services

November 22, 2019

Apply for a free tree now!     This is your opportunity to get a beautiful free (FREE) tree, professionally planted on your property where you want it. Submit an online application form by Friday December 20.

Arlington property owners can beautify their yard, add value to their real estate, lower their heating and cooling bills, and provide a new home for birds and butterflies by applying for a tree from Arlington County’s Tree Canopy Fund (TCF). The cost of the tree and its planting in spring 2020 is paid by the TCF.

The goal of the program is to plant more trees on private property within the county. Private property includes condominiums, apartment buildings, townhomes, single-family homes, non-profits (churches e.g.). The chief requirement of those receiving trees is to properly care for them, especially watering the trees consistently for two years while they get established, then watering in following years whenever rainfall is inadequate.

Please note that if you wish to apply for more than one tree, you will need to fill out the application separately for every tree.

New for Spring 2020 – we are offering the opportunity to apply for small trees for property owners with small front yards impeded by utility lines.

Here is the available tree list for Spring 2020. Details on each species are online.

We will do our best to accommodate your first or second choice of species, but we will use a lottery for selection if necessary.

All trees will be planted March-April of 2020.   More information, including the program guidelines for Spring 2020, is online.


Arlington County Board Approves Request To Apply For W&OD Trail Extension Grant


Nearly a dozen people spoke in opposition the project during Tuesday’s meeting. Many stressed that the project it could destroy a large number of trees and damage storm water management, while others expressed disappointment in what they describe as NOVA Park’s lack of public outreach.

Arlington’s Declining Oak Tree Population Alarming Advocacy Groups



If a Tree Falls in the Forest and Everyone Is There to Hear It

Chain Bridge Forest loses over 200 trees to developers.

The Arlington Connection, November 20 – 26, 2019 edition

Click HERE and go to page 4.

More Arlington trees destroyed – including trees around the edges of a lot

October 31, 2019

At 3511 North Potomac Street, Arlington, a rare wooded lot — 

Before trees destroyed

Which included mature trees along the perimeter — 

Now looks like this:


More destruction of trees around the perimeters of lots – Is this really necessary? 

October 31, 2019

Beautiful tree at the edge of the lot at 5907 Williamsburg Blvd, Arlington, apparently marked for destruction.

Trees at the rear of the lot at 5907 Williamsburg Blvd, Arlington, apparently marked for destruction.



Recap of October 17, 2019 Westover Flood Meeting

By Suzanne Sundburg

October 24, 2019

On Thurs., 10-17-19, four civic associations (Highland Park-Overlee Knolls, Leeway Overlee, Tara Leeway Heights and Westover Village) in the Torreyson Run watershed (the Westover area) met w/county staff Mike Moon (DES), Demetra McBride (bureau chief of the Office of Sustainability and Environmental Mgmt.) and County Board Chair Christian Dorsey.

The meeting was civil but contentious. Many audience members audience expressed frustration and anger.

Click HERE for full report.

Neighbors’ letter to developers who destroyed some 200 trees in one project in Arlington


October 2, 2019

River Street Residences
c/o Mr. Liviu Floroaie
205 Yoakum Pkway #1610
Alexandria, VA 22304

Mr. Floroiae, Mr. Simionov and Mr. Edson (developers of “River Street Residences”):

This entire neighborhood is incensed at the unnecessary, wholesale razing of some 200 trees and all vegetation from 3865 N. River Street.  You needlessly ripped out very large screening trees right at the borderlines of the adjacent homes, destroying privacy and beauty that took more than 50 years to establish, and undercutting the resale value of every nearby home.  Now, because you want to cram in four huge McMansions that are more than twice or thrice the size of the surrounding homes, you have left no room on the sides and backs of your proposed over-sized houses to put up code-required screening and replacement trees.  

Over the past year, you have deliberately misrepresented your building permitting status to the Chain Bridge Forest community, and especially to the homeowners with properties adjacent to yours.  The “by-right” ownership status you claim applies only if you meet all Arlington County zoning ordinances, and as of this writing, you have not even submitted your building permit application which begins the long review process.  You told us that the County had fully permitted the placement, setbacks and size of your 6,500 sf McMansions and further lied that the County would “not allow” you to make any adjustments in house sizes or placements because the Civil Engineering Plan had already been approved.  You proffered this deception in order to dupe existing homeowners into injurious agreements with you to put up screening trees on their lots instead of yours, as required by law.  

In answer to your letter of 9/20/2019, no, my husband and I are NOT interested in helping you meet your screening or tree replacement requirements in our small backyard.  To do so would endanger the critical root zones of a beautiful 50+ year old tree at the back of our lot, and ensure that all future maintenance costs would be borne by us, so that you can reap the benefits, all the while claiming to the County BZA that you have made us happy by paying for half of the screening tree expense. 

Moreover, you must protect the roots of our 50+ year old Poplar and Beech trees, so please push out the tree protection zone fence accordingly.  

And yes, you absolutely do have an obligation to consult with the affected neighbors, despite your claim otherwise.

Our neighborhood group has retained Arlington-based zoning lawyer Aris Chronis to represent us.  Any further correspondence should be directed through him.       

Yours truly,


Carol Lynn MacCurdy and Russ Travers, 3853 N. River Street, Arlington, VA 22207


Copied to: 

Mr. Eric Gutshall, Arlington County Board

Ms. Libby Garvey, Arlington County Board

Ms. Arlova Vonhm, County Zoning Director

Mr. Clifford Hogan, Zoning Office

The Arlington County Board of Zoning Appeals

Mr. Claude Williamson, Dept of Environmental Services

Ms. Lucy Garrah, DES site inspector

Ms. Pattie Walker, Chain Bridge Forest Association (CBFA) President

Chain Bridge Forest HOA Board Members and Treasurer Denny Bedell

CBFA Liaison to Arlington County Joe Pelton

The CBF homeowners immediately surrounding 3865 N. River Street

Mr. Aris Chronis, Esq., Chronis Law


Before and after pictures of tree destruction at 3865 N. River Street:

Before destruction at 3865 N. River St

Before destruction at 3865 N. River St


After destruction at 3865 N. River St

After destruction at 3865 N. River St

Trees Matter Presents: Green Cities Summit

December 4 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm EST

Green Cities Summit

Green Cities Summit

Montgomery Parks and Casey Trees, Washington D.C., present the eighth annual conference — Trees Matter Presents: Green Cities Summit. Presentations will focus on the health and welfare of trees in our increasingly developed landscapes. Learn from some of the country’s leading experts about innovative efforts to plant, protect and preserve trees in urban and suburban settings.

Trees provide many benefits: they clean and cool our air, stabilize our soils, provide wildlife habitat and beautify our urban and suburban areas. We encourage all arborists, landscape industry and environmental/green industry professionals, engineers, designers, housing developers, and interested citizens to take advantage of this opportunity to learn new techniques and concepts on what can be done to ensure the survival of trees in our built environment.

Click HERE for information on the Green Cities Summit.

Activist group raps Arlington officials for lax care of trees in drought


 Dying Trees in Arlington

 By Elaine Simmons

September 29, 2019

Timetable trumps trees as Westover school is approved

 On September 21, ATAG member Angela Dickey and others presented a petition to the County Board: “Trees: Vital Tool to Moderate Flooding and Climate Change.” 153 residents, from over 40 civic associations, signed the petition at ATAG’s booth during the County Fair. 

ATAG's Angela Dickey advocates for trees at County Board

ATAG’s Angela Dickey advocates for trees at County Board

ATAG Petition:

Petition: Trees: Vital Tool to Moderate Flooding and Climate Change

ATAG Petition: Trees: Vital Tool to Moderate Flooding and Climate Change

Peter Rousselot’s recommendations: 

Peter’s Take: Arlington’s Stormwater Planning is Broken


A reminder of what Arlington flooding looks like:

Kennebec and 11th Streets Flooded on 7-8-19

Kennebec and 11th Streets Flooded on 7-8-19

September 21, 2019

Way to “preserve” those trees, Arlington County!

September 21, 2019 at the New Town Square in Green Valley, Arlington

County trees destroyed in "Tree Preservation Area"

County trees destroyed in “Tree Preservation Area”

Another view of trees destroyed in "Tree Preservation Area"

Another view of trees destroyed in “Tree Preservation Area”

Meanwhile, next door at the Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School, APS celebrates school ribbon cutting while ignoring dead and dying trees — September 21, 2019  – 

Dead tree at Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School

Dead tree at Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School

Another example of Arlington Public Schools replanting efforts:  Wakefield High School.

More letters to the Arlington School Board:  Save the tree grove at Reed School!

Residents questioning APS representatives at Reed School grove

Residents questioning APS representatives at Reed School grove 9/16/2019

Marked for destruction, 9/16/2019

Marked for destruction, 9/16/2019

Letter strongly encourages the School Board to encourage the design team to make some small tweaks that could potentially save one or several more trees at Reed school

Joshua Handler

Arlington Urban Forestry Commission Commissioner

September 19, 2019

HOAs and Condo Associations:

Sustainable solutions to landscaping headaches

Friday Oct 4 or Saturday Nov 2, 2019  (9:30am – 1pm)

NVCC Annandale campus

On October 4th and November 2 you have an opportunity to attend a half day symposium on the importance of sustainable landscape design in community associations. 

Letters to County Board concerning Benjamin Banneker Park

September 17, 2019

Can We Turn Down the Temperature on Urban Heat Islands?


Yale Environment 360, September 12, 2019

Chicago resident struggles with heat

Chicago resident struggles with heat

The latest from the APS Design and Construction office on the Reed School Project

September 6, 2019

Good day Everyone,

In response to the feedback and concerns we have heard from residents as regards the Reed project and the tree removal we have scheduled a community meeting on Monday September 16, 2019 at 6:30pm at the Reed site, we plan to walk the site and discuss the design and the tree impacts. APS, its design team and Arlington County Urban Forestry staff will be present. We will meet at one of the existing basketball courts unless there is inclement weather. In case there is inclement weather please gather in the corridor area between the school and the library. This is planned as a walking site meeting to address the concerns and issues. Kindly share this meeting notice with your community members. Please let me know If you have any questions.

For information on the project the link to the project website is listed below:  


Ajibola (Aji) Robinson PMP. Project Manager,

Arlington Public Schools; Design and Construction

ATAG Presentation to Arlington School Board, September 5, 2019

[B]efore you authorize the cutting of mature trees at Reed School, APS will have cut down approximately 640 trees at five schools within the last five years. Many of these trees could have been saved had the School Board been taking its environmental stewardship responsibilities seriously.


Arlington Parks Department Launches Annual Tree Giveaway



Citizens meeting with Adam Lipera, Arlington County Forester, on 9/3/19 re the planned  destruction of trees at Reed School park in Westover

This beautiful, shady grove of mature trees is scheduled to be destroyed by the Arlington School Board. The destruction of this grove will remove many large, rain-absorbing trees from the hill just above the scene of some of the worst of last July’s flooding.

As Rising Heat Bakes U.S. Cities, The Poor Often Feel It Most

NPR, Meg Anderson, Sean McMinn

September 3, 2019

In dozens of major U.S. cities, low-income neighborhoods are more likely to be hotter than their wealthier counterparts, according to a joint investigation by NPR and the University of Maryland’s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism.

September 2, 2019

APS to take another look at tree-preservation on Westover site

August 30, 2019

Reed School trees

Reed School trees

Facing community unrest in Westover, Arlington Public Schools plans to take another look at the potential of saving more trees during construction of a new elementary school on North McKinley Road near Washington Boulevard.

Letter: APS plan to remove trees is an outrage

Catherine Dowling, Arlington

InsideNOVA, August 28, 2019

Arlington Public Schools soon will be razing the relatively new Reed School building to construct a newer school, the planned four-story building unprecedented in the quiet residential neighborhood of Westover. 

. . .

APS will be destroying 40-plus trees on the entire site, with the promise to plant little new ones, primarily around the new staff parking lots. They are planning to pretty much clear-cut the massive trees – healthy, mature, beautiful and home to many kinds of fauna –  well away from the construction, and not replace them.

Four civic associations send joint letter to County Board on flooding and storm water

August 19, 2019

“We understand that the increase in impermeable surfaces, loss of mature trees, and warming atmosphere have and will cause more frequent and more extreme flooding.

. . .

“We also understand that the storm water pipe system is woefully inadequate and incoherent, and that little has been done to mitigate this problem.”

Storm drain pipe mismatches

Storm drain pipe mismatches in Westover parking lot


ATAG hosts booth at the Arlington County Fair

Getting out the message — August 16 – 18, 2019

Volunteer Liz Kirby welcomes visitors to the ATAG booth

Volunteer Liz Kirby welcomes visitors to the ATAG booth

Visitors at ATAG booth at County Fair 2019

Visitors at ATAG booth at County Fair 2019

New Arlington investigative journalism website created:

Latest report from Friends of Upton Hill on recent storms: 

Large volumes of water running off the parking lot at the top of Upton Hill negatively impacts the forest below, including the sensitive wetlands area in the NE corner.

August 9, 2019

Peter’s Take: County Policies, Practices, Exacerbate Lubber Run Flooding

ARLnow Opinion

The Arlington County Board’s repeated claims of powerlessness to take action to protect our environment ring hollow.

Rising global temperatures wreak havoc on urban “heat islands”

Axios, Kim Hart

August 7, 2019

Most U.S. cities are at risk of experiencing extreme heat thanks to the “urban heat island effect” that’s causing cities to warm as much as 50% faster than the rest of the country.

Why it matters: July was the hottest month ever recorded globally, and it was especially brutal for major metros.

Trees can’t escape the extreme heat. But they do have some impressive coping mechanisms.

July 20, 2018

Washington Post

On a micro level, trees shelter us from the infernal summer sun. On a macro level and in an age of global warming, the ability of trees to cool the environment while exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen makes tree planting a no-brainer.

Peter’s Take: Arlington’s Stormwater Planning is Broken

ARLnow Opinion, July 17, 2019

Arlington’s massive July 8 flash flooding — vividly captured by in videos and photos — exposes yet again Arlington’s failed approach to stormwater planning. That is the emergency Arlington also should have declared last week.

July 2019 Arlington flooding

July 2019 Arlington flooding

To follow up with Peter in person:

Flood Prevention in Arlington

When: Wednesday, July 24th/ 10:00 am to 11:00 AM 

Description: Arlington Neighborhood Village is hosting a coffee and conversation with ArlNow opinion leader Peter Rousselot on recent flooding events, and policy changes the county can make to curb flooding in our county in the face of climate change.

Location: The Springs Apartments, Multipurpose Room, 4318 North Carlin Springs Road Arlington Virginia Learn more at:


Washington Post: After years of talk — and flooding — Arlington residents demand fixes to storm drain system

She and other residents say the county government has taken far too long to study the problem without making any fixes, especially in an era where climate change is triggering more intense and frequent storms.

Five years ago, several projects to fix Arlington’s aged storm drain system were on the capital improvements program list, only to quietly fall off without explanation.

. . .

He said that board member Erik Gutshall (D), after listening to him, said: “Perhaps you should reconsider where you live.”

By Patricia Sullivan

Washington Post, July 13, 2019

Letter: Do not let Arlington government off hook on flooding

By Suzanne Smith Sundburg, July 31, 2019


In response to:

Sun Gazette editorial, July 25, 2019

Tree Steward Volunteer Training Class Begins September 24, 2019

Tree Stewards Outdoor Tree ID Walk

July 13, 2019

Fall Module on Planting, Tree Anatomy and Tree ID  

Tuesdays, Sept. 24, Oct. 1, Oct. 15, Oct 22 7 – 8:45 PM and

Outdoor Tree Planting Oct. 4, 14, 19, 26 (choose 2)

TreeStewards are volunteers dedicated to improving the health of our urban trees through educational programs, tree planting and tree maintenance throughout the community.

We work with the arborist staff of Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church to provide tree care in public spaces, assist in planting trees, and notifying staff of tree problems. We provide education through our Tree Information Tables at farmers’ markets and libraries, Earth Day events, plant sales, and other neighborhood events. As concerned citizens, we advocate to protect our urban tree canopy.

Click HERE for more information.

A new study suggests that restoring forests could help reverse global warming.

By Margaret Renkl, The New York Times, July 22, 2019

The secret to curbing your cigarette, alcohol and junk food cravings could be spending more time outside

MarketWatch, July 12, 2019

Why flood waters are rising in Arlington

Letter to the Editor, by Steve Young, Arlington, July 18, 2019

Climate Change Fills Storms With More Rain, Analysis Shows

By Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times, July 11, 2019

And the structure of cities may exacerbate the problem even further, said Gabriele Villarini, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Iowa.

At issue: Dirt absorbs water, but paved surfaces such as roads, sidewalks and even the footprint of building homes that make up cities don’t. The end result is that less water gets absorbed and the excess inevitably has to go somewhere.


Portable classrooms could doom tree at Arlington elementary

BREAKING: Torrential Rain Causes Major Flash Flooding in Arlington County

See also Flooding risk increases when trees removed 


Kennebec and 11th Streets Flooded on 7-8-19

Kennebec and 11th Streets Flooded on 7-8-19

Flooding in North Arlington July 8, 2019

Flooding in North Arlington July 8, 2019



As Floods Keep Coming, Cities Pay Residents to Move

By John Schwartz, The New York Times, July 6, 2019

“We’re starting to see evidence that the number of extreme events will increase,” said Barbara Mayes Boustead, a climate scientist and an author of the latest installment of the National Climate Assessment, a report written by 13 federal agencies that explores both the current and future impacts of climate change

How to stop an insect apocalypse

By Katharina Wecker,, January 3, 2019

We might not love creepy-crawlies, but if insects were to vanish within a century, as some scientists predict, there would be dire consequences for us humans. Is it too late to save bees, bugs and butterflies?


Arlington officials aim to do better on tree maintenance


County will hold public meeting July 17 at 6:30 PM on the Gulf Branch “restoration” project

While developers are one part of the mature tree loss in Arlington, the County is an even bigger problem with its extensive building of facilities, roads, curbs, utilities, and yes even parks and bike trails. No one denies that all these are necessary to some degree, the real question is do they need as much land disturbance as suggested. Rather than building a new Parks and Recreation headquarters in Lubber Run removing over 100 trees, could it have been located in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor where facilities and parking already exist? Does the planning for any construction project emphasize early and throughout the process the important environmental issues like the Chesapeake Bay and mature tree loss? A good example is the planned stream “restoration” project in the Gulf Branch Nature park which will remove numerous trees and permanently change the natural environment. The County’s own survey of unmet recreational needs shows overwhelming support for more natural areas and hiking trails!

If you would like to encourage the County to value our disappearing natural areas, there is an important opportunity at Gulf Branch. On Wednesday, July 17 at 6:30 pm at the Nature Center, 3608 N Military Rd. there will be a Public Meeting on the Gulf Branch Stream “Restoration” project with opportunities to provide input and feedback. The County contact is Lily Whitesell – 703-228-3042 or Please attend if you can because the County will listen the more people speak up.


Are McMansions Making People Any Happier?


Tree advocates promise to take a hard look at new Arlington report

by SCOTT McCAFFREY, Sun Gazette Newspapers

June 7, 2019

The May 31, 2019 County Memo on the Dawn Redwood:

Dawn Redwood Memo May 2019

Chesapeake Bay Foundation VoiCeS (Volunteers as Chesapeake Stewards) Course Starts June 6

This is the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s basic course on environmental stewardship and advocacy, highly recommended by those who have attended.  

For more information and to register, click HERE.

(Links below won’t work.)

VoiCeS 2019 Course

VoiCeS 2019 Course

VoiCeS 2019 Course

VoiCeS 2019 Course

Virginia Big Tree Workshop 2019

If you’re a lover of big trees, this is the event for you! 

Friday, June 21 in Charlottesville

 –  LEARN about the Virginia and National Big Tree Programs 

–  PRACTICE field techniques for measuring and scoring Big Trees 

–  MEET fellow tree lovers

Who should attend:

 – Tree Stewards, Master Naturalists, Master Gardeners 

–  Citizen Scientists 

–  Arborists, Foresters, Horticulturists, Ecologists 

–  Big Tree Enthusiasts

Click HERE for more information and to sign up.

Community Opposition To Arlington Zoning Changes That Would Reduce Our Tree Canopy and Degrade Single-Family Neighborhoods

Mary Glass letter to County Board

Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) letter to County Board

John Wingard letter to County Board

BMCA Accessory dwelling letter to County Board


Claremont Civic Association Asks County Board To Delay Consideration of the Accessory Dwelling Proposal

(May 9, 2019)

Dear Arlington County Board Members,

On behalf of the Claremont Civic Association we are submitting the attached letter to ask for the County Board to delay consideration of the Accessory Dwelling proposal.

Respectfully submitted,

Board of the Claremont Civic Association

POC – Gabe Snow / 703-489-0217 
Attached letter:


See Arlington County website for more information.

Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) (May 7, 2019)


Business as usual is not acceptable when it comes to protecting our planet

The Washington Post Opinion (May 6, 2019)

Tree Only a Memory, But Supporters Remain in Arlington

Just one battle in the fight to save tree canopy.

Shirley Ruhe, Arlington Connection (May 5, 2019)


Dawn redwood loses battle to development in August, 2018. Photo by Shirley Ruhe.

Dawn redwood loses battle to development in August, 2018. Photo by Shirley Ruhe.

Rethink Energy: Free Shade Trees Planted For You

ARLnow (May 4, 2019)


Peter’s Take:  What Arlington Should Do to Prepare For More Flooding

Peter Rousselot, ARLnow (April 24, 2019)

Tree advocates press Arlington officials on decision-making process

ATAG members join Eco-Action Arlington’s stream clean-up on Volunteer Arlington Day (April 23)


Peter’s Take:  Salt Dome Master Plan Avoids Third Fiasco, ARLnow


ATAG take:

In our rapidly developing County, proposed changes in the uses of land all come with direct and opportunity costs and must be justified by data that backs up proposed changes.

The County is being paved over at an unsustainable rate, and flooding is a severe problem. 

In Washington Post (3/1/19)

County Board Chairman Christian Dorsey calls for you to send proposals of “asks” of Amazon:

Arlington County will be requesting cooperation from Amazon. Please email the County Board and Manager urging them to seek concessions to save matures trees and acquire permeable land.  Arlington County‘s POPS (Public Spaces Master Plan) page 70 “actions” plan includes acquiring additional natural acres to serve the growing population of Arlington.  Please request that Arlington work with Amazon to move this goal forward to thoughtfully balance the new development and growth with much needed natural space. (For one idea see ATAG statement made at 9/22/18 County Board meetingbelow)

You can also join County Board public speaking time 8:30 am Saturday March 16

Voice your ideas NOW on environmental issues and green space!


Email your comments to County Board members (, County Manager (, and Vincent Verweij, urban forester with the Department of Parks and Recreation (

One response to chairman Dorsey’s call for “asks”:

March 6, 2019

Dear Chair Dorsey, Arlington County Board members and County Manager Schwartz:
In response to your request for public proposals for “asks” that the County should seek from Amazon, I suggest placing the preservation of Arlington’s dwindling mature tree canopy and the acquisition of permeable, natural public land at the top of your list.
In Figure 3 in Arlington’s 2016 iTree report, you can see the very small percentage of mature trees still surviving in Arlington County.
Percent of trees by size copy.jpg
Larger, mature trees provide exponentially more benefit than smaller, younger trees. As sustainable, solar-powered superstars, these gentle giants rid more pollution from our air and water, sequester greater amounts of carbon, detain and reduce larger volumes of stormwater runoff, and mitigate dangerous urban heat generated by the built environment.
Below is advice from the American Society of Landscape Architects:
“One key take-away for local officials, planners, and design professionals: Do as much as you can to keep those old trees in place. It will be much harder to accomplish the same positive climate impact with younger trees.”
Leveraging the arrangement with Amazon to preserve Arlington’s remaining mature canopy and acquire and conserve additional natural land provides two useful benefits:
1) It allows the County Board to meet its commitments as stated in the Oct. 2018 Public Spaces Master Plan (PSMP/POPS), which includes these “action” items:
Add at least 30 acres of new public space over the next ten years.
Protect, restore, and expand natural resources and trees.
The preservation of the mature tree canopy and acquisition of natural land is also consistent with the statistically valid results from DPR’s 2015 needs assessment survey (see slide 14) in which trails, natural areas and wildlife habitat were the top three outdoor facilities identified by Arlingtonians as the most important investments.
2) With the ongoing proliferation of impervious surfaces, identified as increasing approximately 9 acres per year, preservation of the mature tree canopy and natural land is key to minimizing the need for adding costly, man-made stormwater management infrastructure to replace what nature gives us for free.
It also lessens the stormwater impact on our already overburdened stormwater management system by naturally reducing the speed and volume of runoff that leads to flooding.
In summary, “most mature trees are not a renewable resource within our lifetime.” And Arlington isn’t making any more natural land. Few investments will have greater positive, long-term impact on Arlington’s environment than preserving and conserving Arlington’s remaining mature tree canopy and acquiring natural land — while some of each still exists.
Amazon employees and managers can reap these benefits along with Arlington residents. I urge the County Manager and County Board to leverage its deal with Amazon to expand this largely self-maintaining, long-term public benefit.
Thank you for your consideration.
Arlington County resident Suzanne Smith Sundburg


Falls Church Tree Commission releases its 2018 annual report

Falls Church Tree Commission 2018 Annual Report

March 19, 2019

ATAG public comment statement to Arlington County Board on Sept 22, 2018

Margie Bell, Arlington Tree Action Group

Subject: POPS draft page 70 “actions” plan to acquire additional natural acres

As building expansion, paving, and tree removal are increasing on county, school and private properties—

I am here to urge you to live up to the POPS draft page 70 “actions” plan to acquire additional natural acres to serve the growing population of Arlington. I ask you to be the ones to put Arlington on the map for forward thinking in this regard — while there is still land to acquire.  

Erik, we have talked about the concept of an “emerald necklace” of natural spaces like green ribbons throughout Arlington. I urge you all to take the leadership that will leave an essential  green legacy in our rapidly urbanized community. 

Purchasing parcels of tear down homes now is more critical than ever – while they are still available. These should not be manicured paved parcels, but instead small nature preserves, especially in neighborhoods where clear cutting and large footprints are replacing our necessary healthy green vents. 

Properties near these natural parcels would become more valuable, thus adding to our tax base; and Arlington could be a nationwide leader, proudly pointing to its unique contribution to a genuinely green developing area.

These would require little maintenance, other than removal of invasives a couple times a year — a good volunteer project for the likes of tree stewards, neighborhood civic associations, and other community groups.

Please make this your legacy to honor Arlington’s green commitments by purchasing land throughout clear cut neighborhoods to create small nature preserves while we can.

(The places we can save money throughout the county are relevant here—and for another discussion.)

POPs draft: see page 70

Greener Childhood Associated With Happier Adulthood


Wildlife documented by neighbors of Williamsburg MS and Discovery School over the last few years

February 19, 2019

‘Ghost streams’ sound supernatural, but their impact on your health is very real

Developers buried our streams. It’s about time we exhume them.

Popular Science

February 5, 2019

Related:  39% of Arlington County streams are buried (see page 20 of this 2015 dissertation):

Bill Supports Using Trees to Achieve Water Quality Goals

Delegate Keam’s HB 2333 gives localities important options

Chesapeake Bay Foundation January 2019

[Update January 30, 2019:  Unfortunately this bill died in committee.  Nevertheless, it represents a good approach to saving tree canopy and hopefully will be revived next year and be passed into law.]

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, Presentation to Urban Forestry Commission, February 22, 2018

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)