Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski’s urban landscaping programs continue to branch out, helping the county become greener and provide more shade with their “Street Tree Replacement Program.”
The county executive gathered Monday afternoon with community members and county officials in the Windsor Hill neighborhood of Chadwick Manor, where he announced that in the program’s second season, urban foresters will plant 512 street trees in four neighborhoods.
In addition to Chadwick Manor in Woodlawn, the other three neighborhoods are in Pikesville, Eastern Boulevard, and Rosedale. This will bring the total new street trees to 1,671 by the end of the year.
“We value trees as important green infrastructure that enhance our communities, support air quality, and provide long-term benefits for all,” Olszewski said. “This initiative brings beautiful, natural amenities to neighborhoods around Baltimore County and further supports our commitment to making Baltimore County greener, healthier, and more sustainable.”
The program began in fall 2022, with a $1.25 million investment over two fiscal years for the Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability (DEPS) to plant at least 1,000 trees per year in an effort to bring back tree-lined streets around the county.
DEPS planted 1,159 trees last fall and spring, will plant 520 this fall and at least another 500 next spring. The program’s website illustrates maps of the current and past neighborhood planting locations, tree species planted and planned, and more. The program’s upcoming plans including planting a variety of species, including Red Maples, Elms, Hackberry trees, Crepe Myrtles, and Linden trees, among others.
The trees are planted on county-owned land between sidewalks and county roadways, in primarily residential areas, though some areas will include commercial districts. Residents and store owners are notified of the upcoming work with informational flags in the locations where work is planned, giving them the information they need to contact DEPS with any questions and concerns. Responsibility for maintenance of the trees lies with DEPS, and the species of trees are chosen with an eye towards not damaging sidewalks or roadways.
“The tree species included in the program are selected to be hardy trees that have high drought tolerance and are adapted to the particular soils and conditions in the individual neighborhoods,” reads the press release announcing the next phase of the program. “As needed, trees are planted with wooden stakes, mower guards, bark protectors, water bags and sidewalk-protecting root barriers. DEPS provides maintenance for the street trees, until they are well established.”
The Street Tree Replacement Program is an effort to make up for lost urban tree canopy, given that since 2014, more than 4,300 of Baltimore County’s trees had been removed for various reasons and not replaced. The goal is to plant more trees than were removed.
“Trees are critical infrastructure that support people’s health and well-being by improving air quality, lowering summer temperatures and absorbing greenhouse gasses and stormwater. They reduce home cooling costs and enhance property values,” reads the press release.
In fall 2021, Olszewski launched a different urban tree canopy effort called “Operation ReTree Baltimore County.” It is a hyper-local tree equity program meant to expand the tree canopy in disadvantaged urban communities where greening is needed the most. This fall will mark the fifth round of Operation ReTree, after which the program will have planted 2,591 trees in 18 neighborhoods across Dundalk, Essex, Lansdowne, Owings Mills, and Randallstown.
The grand total for both urban tree planting programs combined is 4,262 trees planted in the past two years.