TAKE ACTION – Respond to Washington Post Article & defend Arlington’s Trees

The article Neighbors mount effort to defend Arlington’s trees from development” shows Northern Virginia residents asking that our dwindling tree canopy be rescued from uncontrolled development. According to South Arlington resident Frederick Craddock, “The trees are in danger.” “When I press the people at Arlington County, they say, ‘Well, we do protect trees on public land, but homeowners are left to their own devices.’ ” Glen Carlyn residents, equally distraught at neighborhood tree loss, have attempted to contact developers directly with no response.

TAKE ACTION Some comments on this article at the Washington Post site fail to recognize the many benefits from trees that are being lost. Make your voice heard and advocate for the facts about our dependence on the remaining trees. To comment, go to the article and click on the chat box in the upper left side of the page.

Potential Tree Loss from Crystal City Waterpark renovation

On January 26th Aurora Highlands Civic Association representative Natasha Atkins presented testimony to the County Board on the proposed Crystal City Waterpark renovation. Fortunately, the project has been deferred a couple of months, largely because of a dangerous conflict between pedestrians and bikes in the new design.There will be meetings with civic association members, along with others representing the pedestrian, cycling, and transportation commissions/committees.  It is hoped that the developer (JBG) and County Manager will include some changes for trees/green space. This case brings into focus concerns about “minor” site plan amendments creating major problems and the need for better outreach to citizens before plans are set in place. Many people who would ordinarily be part of a Site Plan Review Committee are not consulted for these “minor” amendments.

In this case the problems identified by the AHCA  include:

  • Significant tree loss and lack of green space
  • Expected loss of replacement trees without clear plans to assure longevity and health
  • Questionable choices of tree species given hot local conditions
  • Cumulative loss of trees in the area due to intensive development

You can read her full testimony here.  To tell the County Board your thoughts on this project and trees in general email them at countyboard@arlingtonva.us.

SUCCESSFUL DEMONSTRATION @ 2437 N. UTAH ST. – DONALDSON RUN

On February 8th, ATAG is organized a peaceful protest against the imminent cutting of a majestic willow oak tree (53 inches diameter) that is on a property being developed by a construction company.  Entreaties by neighbors and ATAG have fallen on deaf ears  Today’s action took place in the Donaldson Run neighborhood which still boasts a very healthy tree canopy, but is also suffering from rapid development that is felling our green giants!

Arlington Tree Action Group (ATAG) is protesting the removal of several trees, but particularly a very large tree at 2347 N. Utah Street.   ATAG can document dozens of similar cases we have engaged on over the past two years, with only 2-3 trees saved out of dozens of cases; we are fed up that nothing ever changes and the county gives lip service to caring about the environment.

Arlington County is facilitating/encouraging development, without adequate tree protection rules.  The County has failed to aggressively advocate for state legislation that would give them more power to regulate tree loss. With land prices so high, speculative development is creating a huge tree loss due to accelerated construction in neighborhoods. The county has approved removing this willow oak even though we believe it could be saved as a new home is built.  ATAG and a nearby neighbor have lobbied the builder and the County.  Both say the tree cannot/will not be saved.

Let the County know how you feel about these developments by emailing them at CountyBoard@arlingtonva.us and the County Manager Mark Schwartz at mschwartz@arlingtonva.us

Del. Hope adds Tree protection study to VA Budget amendments

Arlington Delegate Patrick Hope has proposed an amendment to the language of HB 1800 that provides for additional work by the Department of Forestry to examine existing and enabling statutes regarding tree preservation.  This amendment directs the Department to convene a new stakeholder work group to provide recommendations for policies which encourage increased tree cover in communities, and the preservation of mature trees and tree cover on sites being developed. Details are provided below.

Item 107 #1h

Agriculture and Forestry
Department of Forestry

Language

Page 101,after line 23, insert:

“M. The Department of Forestry shall convene a stakeholder work group for the purpose of developing and providing recommendations to state and local governments related to policies which encourage the conservation of mature trees and tree cover on sites being developed, increase tree canopy cover in communities, and to encourage the planting of trees. The stakeholder work group shall also examine Virginia’s existing enabling statutes and their use related to the preservation, planting, and replacement of trees during the land development process, including, but not limited to, § 15.2-960, § 15.2-96115.2-961.1, and § 15.2-961.2, and recommend potential changes to those sections that would enhance the preservation, planting, and replacement of trees during the land development process and incentives for the preservation, planting, or replacement of trees during the land development process. The stakeholder work group shall be composed of representatives of the residential and commercial development and construction industries, agricultural and forestry industry representatives, professional environmental technical experts, representatives of local governments, and other affected parties who the Department of Forestry deems necessary. The Department shall provide a report detailing findings, recommendations, and draft legislation of the work group to the Chair of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources and Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committees no later than November 1, 2021, and shall include in the report recommendations for draft legislation to encourage the conservation of tree cover and mature trees, or the planting of trees.