Collaborative on Tree Preservation in Arlington – Civic Federation Report

The Arlington County Civic Federation’s Environmental Affairs Committee recently completed a Collaborative on Tree Preservation in Arlington. The purpose was to understand the nature of the issues (e.g., economic, legal, policy and environmental) involved in preserving and expanding the tree canopy in Arlington. It was Intended as a scoping study to inform further public action. The process was designed and implemented in a manner that encouraged listening to and considering all points of view. A summary of the findings is now available for public review here.  The highest priority “needs” included: new tools for tree preservation, erosion, and storm water management; incentives for developers; funding for tree programs, natural areas, land acquisition; better maintenance of trees and new plantings; planting more trees with an increase in the diversity of species; more County leadership, e.g. preservation, education, etc.; and addressing diminished tree canopy in South Arlington.The detailed findings to the report can be accessed here.

At the February ACCF meeting, the Environmental Affairs Committee will introduce a resolution proposing to continue their work through collaboratives, research and analysis working with other ACCF committees having a stake in the issues identified. For questions, comments please contact Mary Glass or Eric Ackerman at environmental.affairs.chair@civfed.org.

 

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.

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.

 

 

URGENT – Proposed Virginia Legislation for Trees – How YOU can help NOW

The Virginia Conservation Network and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation are urging Virginians to take action quickly to support their efforts to enact legislation that will enhance the ability of local jurisdictions to preserve and grow their tree canopies.

The Virginia Conservation Network is urging citizens to support HB 2042, a new tree bill  being introduced by Delegate Nancy Guy and three others in the Virginia legislature. Unlike with the U.S. Congress, it is permissible to lobby representatives who are not from your district.  A list of relevant delegates, their emails, and possible talking points is provided below.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is urging Virginia legislators in general to “Provide additional authority to localities to conserve and enhance Virginia’s dwindling tree canopy”. In this abbreviated session, legislators will need to hear from you immediately and directly about the importance of trees.  Contact your local representatives and let them know you care about this issue. To learn more go to the CBF blog.

Please make your voice heard today!

Talking points from the Virginia Conservation Network:

Reasons to support HB 2042: The current statute limits localities’ authority to preserve and conserve their tree canopies. This bill enhances their ability to increase their tree canopies in several specific circumstances: (i) to generate pollution reduction credits through installation of an approved Urban Tree Canopy Expansion best management practice (BMP) or other approved BMP for compliance with the locality’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit; (ii) to help address local flooding in any development project located in a Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area; (iii) in any development project located in an area that prior to the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq., was redlined or graded “D” by the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corporation; and (iv) to ensure conformity with the comprehensive plan adopted by the locality.

Overview: Virginia limits the percentage of trees that local governments can require developers to replace or conserve in the process of development. Depending on zoning, those caps range from 10-30%. HB2042 enables localities to adopt higher replacement percentages where trees are used to meet water quality, flooding management, and equity goals.

The bill also expands statewide the applicability of the tree preservation statute, Va. Code 15.2-961.1.  The provisions in this statute allow local governments to establish a tree fund or tree bank, providing offsite options for developers unable to achieve the canopy replacement percentages onsite. Tree fund fees collected can be used to plant trees on municipal property or support non-profits conservation groups in planting trees on private property.

Virginia is losing 16,000 acres of trees per year to development and disease. Their loss removes their ability to capture carbon and harmful particulates, reduce flooding, provide habitat, improve water quality and quality of life.

Title Last First District Party Email Phone
Delegate Kory (Chair) Kaye 38 D DelKKory@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1038
Delegate Heretick (Vice-Chair) Steve E. 79 D DelSHeretick@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1079
Delegate Murphy Kathleen 34 D DelKMurphy@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1034
Delegate Jones Jay C. 89 D DelJJones@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1089
Delegate Gooditis Gwendolyn W.  (Wendy) 10 D DelWGooditis@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1010
Delegate Carter Lee J. 50 D DelLCarter@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1050
Delegate Roem Danica A. 13 D DelDRoem@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1013
Delegate Samirah Ibraeem S. 86 D DelISamirah@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1086
Delegate Subramanyam Suhas 87 D DelSSubramanyam@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1087
Delegate Mugler Martha M. 91 D DelMMugler@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1091
Delegate Askew Alex Q. 85 D DelAAskew@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1085
Delegate Guy Nancy D. 83 D DelNGuy@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1083
Delegate Jenkins Clinton L. 76 D DelCJenkins@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1076
Delegate Poindexter Charles D. 9 R DelCPoindexter@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1009
Delegate Morefield James W. 3 R DelJMorefield@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1003
Delegate Hodges Keith M. 98 R DelKHodges@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1098
Delegate Leftwich James A. “Jay” 78 R DelJLeftwich@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1078
Delegate Campbell Jeffrey L. 6 R DelJCampbell@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1006
Delegate LaRock Dave A. 33 R DelDLaRock@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1033
Delegate McNamara Joseph P. 8 R DelJMcNamara@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1008
Delegate Coyner Carrie E. 62 R DelCCoyner@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1062
Delegate Wyatt Scott 97 R DelSWyatt@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1097