Discover Trees of the DowntownDC BID

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

By Rachel Rose Hartman

What type of trees line the sidewalk outside the National Theatre? What are the diamond-shaped pods falling from trees in Chinatown?

Over 3,800 trees dot the asphalt streets, all manners of sidewalks and fill a myriad of green spaces located in the DowntownDC Business Improvement District's (BID's) 138-block area. Now, you can learn about a select number of them online by checking out the BID's new Story Map, "Trees of the DowntownDC Business Improvement District."

The trees lining the National Theater are Willow Oaks, the most abundant tree species in the BID. Those diamond-shaped pods on Chinatown sidewalks have fallen from Goldenrain Trees, which are native to eastern Asia. If you notice a lot of Ginkgo trees in Downtown, it's not a coincidence. They were chosen for their durability and tough nature.

This information and more is contained in a story map created by the BID to explore the diversity of trees in Downtown and the thriving partnership between the BID and the Urban Forestry Administration (UFA), which work together to maintain Downtown tree health and safety and protect our green spaces.

The Downtown tree species Story Map was created using ArcGIS Online generated by Esri, one of the largest geospatial entities in the world. The BID's Public Space Management uses ArcGIS to help individuals visualize public space in Downtown and views this technology as an opportunity to better inform, notify and engage with stakeholders.

Trees in Downtown require support to flourish. In many cases, trees in urban environments are struggling to survive and fighting for limited resources in a fixed-space tree box. The BID and UFA are successfully maintaining and expanding Downtown's urban tree canopy.

Trees help support a healthy community. For one, trees purify air. One mature, healthy tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of roughly 48 pounds per year and in one season can produce as much oxygen as 10 people inhale in a year.

Trees help reduce heat—one tree can cool the air by up to 13 degrees. Trees diminish traffic noise and help control storm water runoff. They also add value by increasing property values.

The responsibility for trees in Downtown mainly falls under two entities: UFA for the majority of trees located along streets and sidewalks and the National Park Service (NPS) for trees located in parks and in some areas along Pennsylvania Avenue.

As part of its regular inventory of permanent assets in Downtown public space, the BID surveys and inventories trees and tree boxes each quarter. This includes tree box iron grates, plants, borders and hoops, mulch, soil compaction and additional issues and variables. New trees are planted each year between October and April.

Though trees are maintained by UFA or NPS, tree boxes or tree space maintenance remains the responsibility of adjacent properties. The BID works to inform property managers of responsibilities related to tree space, best care practices and tips to improve tree spaces or boxes.

Support for Downtown trees falls under the BID's Healthy Communities initiative, which supports efforts made by the BID, partners, stakeholders and guests in Downtown to contribute to individual and community health.

For a complete list of healthy programs, events and more in DowntownDC, stay tuned for the new Healthy Communities webpage, brought to you by the DowntownDC BID. Join the Healthy Communities conversation on social media today using #healthy247.