Sunday, January 10, 2010

Urban Forestry as an Important Component of Parks Department -- Spokane, WA

Below is from the Spokane City Parks director. But before that letter, I need to make it clear that we have some cool people in Spokane concerned that Park Departments like ours do not spend enough per capita per urban and park tree. In fact, the ex-city arborist, Jim Flott, was a dedicated city official; he now is a private consultant working out of Spokane. We have Carrie Anderson, the Tree Lady. You can find her at the Lands Council web site --

And specifically, at:

As computer software designers, architects, land use folk, urbanists, sustainability experts and just those communities of place and of purpose we associate with, we need to recognize the so-called free services trees give us. Storm water work, dampening of wind sheets, insulation in the winter, soil maintenance, shading in the summer, carbon sequestration, urban canopy of wildlife habitat, and dozens more. A home with good trees sells for more than one where there is just grass and empty space.

We need our trees big time. Go to Arbor Day -- -- to see the value of trees for people, animals, homes, cities' energy budgets, how they save streets, generate cooling effects to stave off some of the negatives of the urban heat island effect, and their huge spiritual and psychological additions to our species, and probably to our avian creatures' as well.

We need better planners, better people, better community engagement, and an end to the top down organizing and dictating from the limited technocrat's or business person's point of view. We hope to get citizens to be watchdogs and to tell the current planning director of parks to listen and be part of the neighborhood planning-organizing ethos. Here's what Leroy Eadie, director, writes to get us involved. But you have to attend these meetings and hold guys like Leroy accountable:

"The Spokane Parks and Recreation Department is currently conducting an ambitious, comprehensive organizational assessment process that varies from past planning efforts. One of the interests of the process is to insure sustainable parks and recreation services for Spokane residents.

This assessment process began in 2009 and continues to evolve. GP RED, the non-profit firm leading the project, will conduct another series of community workshops intended to engage citizen representatives in the next component of the process, Financial Resource Allocation.

Three community groups --

Community Assembly
current parks and recreation service users
and city leaders

are being asked to participate in two workshops each (90 minutes per workshop, three hour commitment total), the first of which will take place the week of January 18.

These workshops follow other public meetings and forums held in 2009 that solicited public opinion and feedback concerning community values, a vision for the Department, and community issues and challenges as they relate to parks and recreation services. This next step will focus on the development of a financial resource allocation philosophy intended to assist the department in preparing for its economic future. Your opinions are invaluable to this step in the process so we hope that you are able to attend and participate.

Service Users Workshop I will be scheduled for January 19 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at the Finch Arboretum Woodland Center. We would appreciate your RSVP by no later than January 13 to Mike Aho at or by calling 625-6546 to confirm attendance."

Here are the values the Spokane Parks Department is hoping to build upon in terms of the value we put on trees, essentially:
Organizational Values

…provides and promotes a parks and recreation system which advocates healthy lifestyles and the value of play.

…stimulates the local economy through the provision of venues, events and activities which draws visitors and keeps local citizens close to home; well-maintained and managed greenspaces that enhance property values; and the creation of employment opportunities.

…directs the acquisition and stewardship of properties for parks and recreation purposes while balancing active recreation and environmental interests.

…promotes community safety through the development, maintenance, and management of the parks and recreation system.

…insures reasonable access to opportunities within a diverse parks and recreation system.

…honors the history and legacy of the Spokane parks system through celebration, preservation and restoration efforts.

…innovatively develops and manages the responsible, efficient and equitable use of resources leading to the sustainability of a strong and viable parks and recreation system.

...demonstrates accountability and a collaborative culture through open communication, stakeholder participation, and transparent management practices.

...continues to encourage a sense of community and pride through the provision of a parks and recreation system that affords citizens social gathering places and spaces.
Here are the Arbor Day dates for states and the trees each state calls its state tree:
State Arbor Days (state trees in brackets)
Alabama Last full week in February (Longleaf Pine)
Alaska Third Monday in May (Sitka Spruce)
Arizona Last Friday in April (Paloverde)
Arkansas Third Monday in March ( Pine)
California March 7-14 (California Redwood)
Colorado Third Friday in April ( Blue Spruce)
Connecticut April 30 ( White Oak)
Delaware Last Friday in April ( American Holly)
District of Columbia Last Friday in April (Scarlet Oak)
Florida Third Friday in January ( Cabbage Palmetto)
Georgia Third Friday in February ( Live Oak)
Hawaii First Friday in November (Kukui)
Idaho Last Friday in April ( Western White Pine)
Illinois Last Friday in April ( White Oak)
Indiana Last Friday in April (Tuliptree)
Iowa Last Friday in April (Oak)
Kansas Last Friday in March (Cottonwood)
Kentucky First Friday in April (Tulip Poplar)
Louisiana Third Friday in January (Baldcypress)
Maine Third full week in May ( Eastern White Pine)
Maryland First Wednesday in April ( White Oak)
Massachusetts April 28-May 5 ( American Elm)
Michigan Last Friday in April ( Eastern White Pine)
Minnesota Last Friday in April (Red Pine)
Mississippi Second Friday in February ( Southern Magnolia)
Missouri First Friday in April ( Flowering Dogwood)
Montana Last Friday in April (Ponderosa Pine)
Nebraska Last Friday in April (Cottonwood)
Nevada Southern: February 28; Northern: April 23 (Singleleaf Pinyon)
New Hampshire Last Friday in April ( Paper Birch)
New Jersey Last Friday in April ( Northern Red Oak)
New Mexico Second Friday in March (Pinyon)
New York Last Friday in April ( Sugar Maple)
North Carolina First Friday following March 15 ( Pine)
North Dakota First Friday in May ( American Elm)
Ohio Last Friday in April (Ohio Buckeye)
Oklahoma Last full week in March (Eastern Redbud)
Oregon First full week in April (Douglas Fir)
Pennsylvania Last Friday in April (Eastern Hemlock)
Rhode Island Last Friday in April ( Red Maple)
South Carolina First Friday in December ( Cabbage Palmetto)
South Dakota Last Friday in April ( White Spruce)
Tennessee First Friday in March (Yellow Poplar)
Texas Last Friday in April (Pecan)
Utah Last Friday in April ( Blue Spruce)
Vermont First Friday in May ( Sugar Maple)
Virginia Second Friday in April ( Flowering Dogwood)
Washington Second Wednesday in April (Western Hemlock)
West Virginia Second Friday in April ( Sugar Maple)
Wisconsin Last Friday in April ( Sugar Maple)
Wyoming Last Monday in April (Cottonwood)


  1. You should also make your readers aware of
    This site uses USFS urban forest research to assign values to a tree after a home/business owners enters in some basic size and location info. After 3-4 questions you get CO2 sequestered storm water controlled, etc...
    Enjoy! from the City4ster


    Thanks again for those sites. It's sketchy, though, because that site,, is not up and running. Any Ideas, Nick?

  3. We need better planners, better people, better community engagement, and an end to the top down organizing and dictating from the limited technocrat's or business person's point of view.

    This is a curious comment. Presumably you acknowledge that planners are people too (not everybody will but I am hoping for the best). As an experienced planner, I will tell you what is really missing here: a better set of elected officials and a public willing to learn and to adopt to new circumstances. There is too much blame laid at the feet of 'technocrats.' We are bound by law and circumvented by politics and assuming that technocratic rationality is the principal problem is blamestorming of the most ignorant kind. Further devolving decision making to neighborhoods just subverts decision making to consensus-bullies, misappropriating the environment to personal desires. We don't need devolution, we need a better informed and reasonable public--once you have that, electeds will follow and so will the technocrats.

  4. I should have checked back to this sooner... the site works for me... I think I spelled it right. Anyway... its all based on US Forest Service urban studies across 19 climate reference cities nationwide. Google "center for urban forest research" for all the research and background


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