Okay, so we’ve accepted that the trees promised by the Grand Prix’s penniless — and since dismissed — Baltimore Racing Development company probably aren’t coming through (the ground). But we’re breathing easier to hear about the State Highway Administration’s upcoming efforts to plant a whopping 28,000 trees — plus, the additional plantings in store by another vital program, TreeBaltimore. In light of a new study by the U.S. Forest Service, revealing that 17 of 20 U.S. cities have lost tree cover, with Baltimore’s leafy loss among the worst of the bunch, we need good green news just now.

Seems that about two percent of our city’s tree canopy has receded in the four-year period (ending 2005) satellite-studied, according Tim Wheeler writing in the GreenBlog at The Baltimore Sun. (Refresher: Trees, of course, improve air and water quality and offer beauty, bounty, and protective shade for humans and animals; they support runoff reduction, stream bank stabilization, wildlife habitat creation, aid in erosion and flood control, and more.)

“It’s not clear whether Baltimore has continued to lose trees the past seven years. Older, larger trees have died and been felled by storms such as Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, as well as from development — including, at least temporarily, the trees cut in the Inner Harbor last year for the Baltimore Grand Prix,” Wheeler explained, noting further that “Baltimore’s sustainability plan adopted in 2010 calls for doubling the city’s tree canopy by 2037. The [connected] TreeBaltimore program will plant…about 6,700 trees* this budget year, according to city forester Erik Dihle, and plans are to boost that to 8,800 trees for the next year starting in July.”

Meanwhile, in conjunction with Maryland’s Smart, Green & Growing initiative, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) boasts immediate plans to plant those aforementioned 28,000 beauties on 110 acres of land at various locations in Baltimore and Harford counties during the spring and fall of this year. “Weather permitting; the $1.4 million investment in new trees will be complete by the end of spring 2013,” according to a statement from the SHA.

“This is an important part to our environmental initiatives, which also includes meadow establishment, wetland creation and mowing reduction,” said Melinda B. Peters, SHA Administrator. “As we continue to move in a greener direction, our customers can expect to see more of these types of plantings.”

One more seed: “Each tree plays a significant role in helping to contain storm water runoff that eventually leads directly into the Chesapeake Bay,” according to SHA materials.

No need to convince us. Yes, please, more trees.

Want to know how your urban trees are standing up? Visit i-Tree Canopy.* For more information about green initiatives and sustainability programs throughout the city and state, visit The Greening of Baltimore blog.