Plant Trees or Build Sewers?

Plant Trees or Build Sewers?

Jonathan B.
Aug 19, 2008

Urban forestry: it's not just for looks any more. Cities are realizing the benefits of trees in reducing the load on—and the cost of—other infrastructure, such as sewers. And someone clever came up with a new name for trees in the city: green infrastructure.

We like the switch, because 1) it makes you think of trees as more than just decoration, and 2) it makes you realize that one tree you want to chop down in your back hard is part of a much larger system that serves the community you live in.

Portland, Oregon, already green, is increasing the number of its street trees by 25%. The $50 million cost will be offset by the 1.3 billion gallons of stormwater the trees will keep out of treatment facilities— saving $36 million in treatment costs. The trees should increase private property values, too—and therefore increase tax revenue.

What surprised us is that it's not just progressive Portland that's making a commitment to more trees. Suburb Gresham, usually associated with more conservative politics, has started to make preparations for a citywide "tree census," so they can figure out what areas of the city could most benefit from tree planting.

Inspiring, no? New York City has the Million Trees NYC program. We're wondering if other areas of the country have figured this out yet... is there anything in your neck of the (urban) woods?

via The Oregonian

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