A new tree planting project in Chattanooga will be disbursing $22,000 in funds to neighborhoods this fall in an effort to increase the tree canopy and foster the environmental health of communities around the city.
Applications are being accepted now through Sept. 24 from neighborhoods and neighborhood-based organizations that are outside the boundaries of the defined expanded central business district downtown that is already managed by the Take Root tree planting program.
A combination of factors, including storms, new construction and tree mortality, are ongoing causes for a loss in the city's tree canopy, according to Chattanooga's urban forester, Gene Hyde.
"We want to make sure we don't dip below the recommended amount [of trees] inside and outside the Take Root boundaries," Hyde said.
According to American Forests, a conservation group that recently evaluated the health and density of Chattanooga's tree canopy, urban areas in the United States have lost more than 600 million trees to development over the past 30 years.
Hyde said the results of the group's study of the most recent aerial photographs of the city showed the local canopy was about 3 percent below the recommended amount. The group's national findings indicate that many metropolitan areas across the U.S. have insufficient tree canopies.
Contact project specialist Lauren Lowery at 423-425-3718 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neighborhoods interested in tree planting projects in their communities can request funds to purchase trees, but Hyde and officials with the city's Department of Neighborhood Services and Community Development will be helping applicants choose the best varieties for each desired location.
Hyde said the goal is to be sure the applications and the requests are as strong as they can be so that the money that has been invested will be well-spent.
With Hyde's experience, knowledge and guidance, groups can avoid unintended mishaps such as planting maple trees next to parking lots (where the surface heat will cause the tree to languish) or planting large breeds under power lines.
Application guidelines require that each organization requesting funds for the purchase of trees have a sustainability plan in place, indicating who will be maintaining the tress and how that maintenance plan will be implemented. Hyde said he is considering working with the citizen forester aspect of the Take Root program to provide grant recipients with a crash course in proper planting and caretaking basics.