Tree Stewards share plans for increasing Cleveland’s tree canopy
by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, March 2020) Deloris Watson of the West Side Tree Stewards and Dan Leamon of the Tremont Tree Stewards were among the graduates of the Sherwick Tree Steward Training Program being honored at an appreciation ceremony held by Holden Forests and Gardens and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. The February 6th ceremony, at the Cleveland Botanical Garden in the University Circle neighborhood, offered an opportunity for Tree Stewards to tell about their efforts to help restore Cleveland’s tree canopy and share their plans for the upcoming year.
Staff members and volunteers from Holden Forests and Gardens, and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy also shared information about the progress of the Cleveland Tree Plan and efforts to help increase the local tree canopy.
Watson said this past year, the West Side Tree Stewards planted trees on Pear Avenue and a few on Madison Avenue. She said Craig Hoffman and six members of the West Side Tree Stewards helped with the effort. She said, Hoffman engaged neighbors, asking their help in identifying places to plant trees. Watson said volunteers from Calvary Church on W. 65th Street helped with the planting.
This coming year, Watson said West Side Tree Stewards plan to use the West 65th Rapid Station in the EcoVillage as a starting point and fan out South, East and West from there to find locations to plant trees. She said she would be contacting other tree stewards for help in planting once the group has a planting date and places to plant.
Dan Leamon of the Tremont Tree Stewards spoke of the efforts of his group to care for trees in Lincoln Park and near the Christmas Story House on W. 11th this past year. Leamon showed those in attendance the tree watering cart he built to carry water to young trees planted in the middle of Lincoln Park. Leamon said he hopes that the Western Reserve Land Conservancy can partner with the City of Cleveland to plant trees in the coming year. “If the city is interested in planting trees, let’s make it happen,” he said. Leamon noted the 16-foot-wide tree lawns in parts of the Tremont neighborhood that would make prime locations for planting trees.
Courtney Blashka of Holden Forests and Gardens, speaking to the graduates of the Sherwick Tree Steward Training Program, said the program is designed to connect people to trees and “inspire you to take action to make your community more livable.”
Jill Koski, President and Chief Executive Officer of Holden Forests and Gardens thanked partners in the Cleveland Tree Coalition for their efforts to help get “us back to be the Forest City we used to be.” Partners engaged in the Cleveland Tree Plan include the City of Cleveland, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Holden Arboretum, LAND Studio and Western Reserve land Conservancy.
Koski pointed to the recently published Cuyahoga County Urban Tree Canopy Assessment which showed that Cuyahoga County lost about 6% of its tree canopy from 2011 to 2017 and the City of Cleveland lost about 5% of its tree canopy between 2011 and 2017.
The Cuyahoga County Urban Tree Canopy Assessment notes that despite gaining over 1,200 acres of new tree canopy, the City of Cleveland had a net loss of 1,600 acres of canopy from 2011 to 2017. The city of Cleveland now has a tree canopy measured at 17.9%, well below the Cuyahoga County average of 34.7% for existing tree canopy. The assessment report defines tree canopy as “the layer of leaves, branches and stems of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above.”
The assessment notes that nearly all Cleveland neighborhoods lost tree canopy between 2011 and 2017 with the highest losses in the Detroit-Shoreway and Edgewater neighborhood at 14% loss of canopy and University Circle neighborhood at 13% loss of canopy.
The goal of the Cleveland Tree Plan, Kosky said, is to increase the City of Cleveland’s tree canopy to 30% by the year 2040. Most neighborhoods in and around the Plain Press coverage area have a long way to go to reach that goal. The Bellaire -Puritas, Tremont, Cudell, Detroit Shoreway, Stockyards, Jefferson, Clark Fulton and West Boulevard neighborhoods all have tree canopy that lies between 10 and 20% coverage. The Ohio City neighborhood is at 20% coverage. The Old Brooklyn, Brooklyn Centre, and Edgewater neighborhoods have tree canopy that ranges from 20 to 30%. The Kamm’s neighborhood has a tree canopy at just above 30%.
Kosky stressed that the Cleveland Tree Plan will depend upon not only planting on public land, but also planting trees on private properties. The Cuyahoga County Tree Canopy Assessment notes that “Possible Tree Planting Area is dominated by residential land use, accounting for 44.6% of all possible Tree Planting Area in the County.”
The Cleveland Tree Plan notes the many benefits of increasing the tree canopy in the city of Cleveland. Benefits of increased tree canopy noted in the plan include: flooding and water pollution reduction, erosion prevention, energy savings, lessening the impact of high heat days, carbon reduction, cleaner air, better health, higher property values, more successful business districts, habitat for wildlife, stronger and more vibrant communities, safer streets, and buffers for noise and pollution.
The Cleveland Tree Plan notes that Cleveland, once known as the Forest City, has fallen behind other cities in the amount of Tree Canopy. As noted above, Cleveland currently has a tree canopy of 17.9% with a goal of 30% Tree Canopy by 2040. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania listed its tree canopy at 40% in the year 2011 with a goal of increasing it to 60% by the year 2031. Cincinnati, Ohio, is working to increase its 2011 tree canopy of 38%. Louisville, Kentucky, is hoping to increase its 2013 tree canopy of 37% to 40%. Washington, D.C., with a 35% tree canopy in 2009, is working toward a 40% tree canopy by 2029. Boston listed its tree canopy at 29% in 2006 and had a ten-year goal to increase that to 49% by 2016. Even New York City listed a greater tree canopy than Cleveland with a 24% canopy in 2006 with a goal of increasing that to 30% by 2036.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Lizzie Sords of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy noted that an April 25th gathering at Zone Recreation Center will kick off this year’s efforts to grow Cleveland’s Tree Canopy. The day will include information of funding available through the City of Cleveland for tree planting on tree lawns throughout the city, instruction on tree plantings, and tree give-a-ways.