I am extremely happy about the attention the press and citizens of Baltimore are devoting to the city's trees. The Sun's editorial ("Standing up for city trees" Aug 15) accurately highlights the crisis we face in increasing Baltimore's tree canopy while at the same time reconciling large budget cuts and promoting economic development. Upon my arrival this year I was briefed on the city's tree plan with the Grand Prix organization, and I agree it can be a win-win for both parties. It was apparent after review by my office and the Office of Sustainability that the mayor and city seriously considered the impact on trees. I am as passionate about trees as anyone and never wish to see the removal of a healthy tree, yet Baltimore will ultimately have a greater tree canopy after this event.
TreeBaltimore, under the jurisdiction of Recreation and Parks, is in fact the unifying citywide program for planting trees on both city and private property. Both are critical in meeting the city's tree canopy goals. Together with our partners, thousands of trees have been planted at schools, in parks and vacant lots, along our streets, and through our program of "give-away" trees and coupons for planting on residential lots.
Tuesday we presented the Mayor through her Fellowship Program a very specific action plan on moving forward with plantings and maintenance in an organized, professional manner. The plan is based on summer sessions held by a working group of thirty-plus agencies and private organizations. The group is comprehensive in representing all of Baltimore and includes departments such as Public Works, Transportation, and the Office of Sustainability — as well as nongovernment organizations such as Parks and People and Blue Water Baltimore, and many neighborhood and community-action based groups.
The Division of Forestry continues to face tough choices in caring for our maturing trees, including the allocation of resources for storm damage, tree pruning, and stump removals. Also, in fiscal year 2011 five hundred large street trees were planted through Recreation and Parks funding as a supplement to the TreeBaltimore Program and all the good work performed by our city partners. I look forward to continued success, better coordination of efforts, and the on-going passion of so many Baltimoreans who care so deeply about the health and well-being of its residents and the appearance of its streets, parks, and lots.
Erik M. Dihle, Baltimore
The writer is arborist for Forestry-TreeBaltimore and Baltimore City Recreation and Parks