By Connor Bell

The College Park Tree & Landscape Board proposed a tree canopy enhancement program to the city council. This proposed program encourages College Park citizens to bolster the canopy by planting trees on their personal property. The city will refund citizens’ tree purchases as an incentive for more people to start buying them. Relying on citizens to plant trees will be crucial in College Park as most of the trees in the city are located on private property, not in public places.

This project was proposed to the College Park City Council in a March 7 work session meeting by the College Park Tree and Landscape Board. The board used a map of College Park to show the council how many trees in the city alone were lost to stress the need for more trees.

The board is one of 19 boards and committees in College Park that advise the mayor and council in College Park on various issues in the city.

Part of the board’s main goal is to “enhance the beauty of College Park, plant, maintain, or remove trees, shrubs and ground covers in or upon public ways or public areas within the city limits, and ensure that the trees, shrubs, and ground covers located on public property are properly installed, maintained, and removed, if necessary” according to their website.

The canopy would protect the people and the city of College Park from the urban heat island effect, according to College Park Tree & Landscape Board Chair Joseph Smith. This effect causes sidewalks and roads to heat up to dangerous temperatures and forces homeowners to spend more money on their air conditioning to deal with the intense heat in the summer.

Between 2009 and 2016, Prince George’s County land developers cleared 9,074 trees and only replaced 1,968, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Workers removed trees in College Park due to maturity, weather or Pepco, which took out a whole tree to remove its branches from power lines, according to Smith. The tree cover loss is the most out of any county in Maryland, according to the foundation.

College Park City Councilmember Mary Cook said the project will cost the city around $15,000, although it is not finalized. College Park homeowner Anne Morrison disagreed with the amount of money the project needs.

“I’m all for trees believe me, but I don’t think the government should be paying for people to buy them,” Morrison said.

Smith said the canopy cover in College Park is currently at 33 percent, and the goal is to reach at least 40 percent. The College Park City Council will discuss canopy program’s budget and guidelines in its upcoming meetings, as Smith said he hopes the city will fund the project for multiple years starting in 2018.

The Tree and Landscape Board has not yet added this proposed program to its website  underneath the projects tab as the program is still under deliberation from the city council.

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Connor Bell is a junior journalism major and can be reached at cbell56@terpmail.umd.edu.

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