Comments of Mary Glass at Arlington County Urban Forestry Commission Meeting (May 24, 2018)

Options for UFC advocacy and action within the existing laws to better preserve and grow trees in Arlington:

  • Research other jurisdictions within the Commonwealth regarding their programs and regulations to control destruction of trees from public and private development and promote effective addition of trees for the future.
  • Enforce land clearing and site plans vigorously with penalties that are meaningful.
  • Restrict zoning variances that create conditions such as small setbacks on all sides that promote the removal of trees.
  • Allow greater use of trees to meet Chesapeake Bay and Storm Water Management goals and encourage the Chesapeake Bay Program to finish the BMP’s for tree preservation.
  • Require reporting of number and size class of trees removed in any private development/modification project.
  • Require all County projects (including APS) that remove trees to use the I-Tree model to calculate the benefits lost for the trees removed versus the benefits of the replacement vegetation going out 20 years. Use this information in reviewing projects brought to the UFC for comment.
  • Require all private projects with site plans and/or in the Chesapeake Bay Preservation area to inventory trees to be removed and provide an I-Tree analysis of the effects
  • Require all building permits to have an entry showing the number of trees above 6’ diameter that are removed to gain information on the location and extent of tree loss across the county even though no action can be taken.
  • Create a County award for public or private projects that preserve trees like Fairfax and other local jurisdictions.
  • Place a high standard for mature tree removal on County property
    • No longer remove to meet builders’ preferences
    • Require effective tree protection and set enforcement goals
    • Modify county infrastructure work to preserve trees to the maximum extent possible
      • Modify sidewalks and curbs around trees
      • Review water, sewer, and other projects requiring excavation to protect tree roots
    • Promote a higher standard for tree maintenance where this can result in preserving mature trees.
  • Promote budget and organizational decisions that better support the tree resources in Arlington
    • Appoint an environmental ombudsman at the highest level to coordinate and support advancement of these resources across county departments (including trees).
    • Increase the number of urban foresters on staff to be in line with other jurisdictions
    • Increase the in-house staff and equipment available to maintain trees
    • Develop a meaningful tree inventory that shows key characteristics of the canopy and the changes that are occurring – even bankrupt Flint, Michigan has one!
    • Implement a comprehensive outreach plan that informs citizens of the many economic, social, health and environmental benefits.
    • Implement an education program for developers promoting the benefits above as well as their civic responsibilities.
  • Advocate more vigorously for the urban forest to the Board and other commissions
    • Carefully review the recent redraft of the “POPS” Open Space Plan process to assure that reflects the citizens desire for natural areas (including trees) as expressed in the 2016 survey and the public meeting records. Make sure it provides appropriate goals that will increase the urban forest and funding to maintain it, not setting narrow parameters that limit what the UF Master Plan can include.
    • Initiate studies, reports and/or recommendations to the Board for Arlington trees as the need is identified.
    • Maintain focus on actions while UFMP is reworked. Use existing Plan to the extent possible to expedite completion. Develop a simple set of core goals and concrete targets for the Plan as a framework, understanding that the details are often ignored.

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