Spring is officially here. The wildflowers are in bloom, the birds are singing, and Mother’s Day is just around the corner. After the frigid February we had, seeing all the bright green trees around town is especially rejuvenating.
In Denton, we view those trees as a precious community resource. Valuable, of course, to their owners for their beauty, shade, and property value enhancements. But even more so, to the city as a whole, for improving air quality, reducing carbon in the atmosphere, and providing crucial wildlife habitats.
In April, we celebrated Denton’s 30th year as a “Tree City USA” recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation. I was proud to help to mark the occasion with the ceremonial planting of an Autumn Blaze Maple in Quakertown Park. This designation doesn’t just mean that we like trees. It recognizes the proactive steps we take to preserve the trees we have and to plant as many new ones as possible. For example, our staff and volunteers spend countless hours on public outreach and education. Events like our annual Redbud Festival and the Keep Denton Beautiful tree giveaway held each fall, are red-letter days.
In addition, the City of Denton holds thousands of acres of land on the public’s behalf as parkland, right-of-ways, drainage or floodway, and buffers around city facilities. We preserve and plant trees on as much of this land as possible, a kind of “tree bank” we all invest in together. And, when we plan big city projects like roads and water lines, we do everything we can to avoid large, mature trees. When we scout out land for new parks or facilities, we keep a special eye out for properties where we can preserve and protect large stands of quality trees.
We also have a stringent tree preservation ordinance, which requires developers and commercial entities to preserve quality trees on their property. When that’s not possible for a given project, they are required to replace removed trees with an equal number of inches in trunk diameter. This usually means planting a large number of new young trees, at least three inches in diameter. The smaller trees aren’t quite a substitute for the larger ones, but the net result is usually more trees on a property, and much more canopy cover at maturity.
Denton also employs a certified Urban Forester. This means that we have an expert on our staff who can help us care for our publicly held “tree bank,” and advise citizens on how to care for their trees. He is the official in charge of reviewing and inspecting tree preservation on commercial projects, and approving the fencing and other measures used to protect trees on construction sites.
I hope you’ll agree that Denton’s commitment to our trees is a part of what makes our community special.
Feel free to contact me on these issues and any others before the Denton City Council at [email protected] I look forward to hearing from you, and I’ll see you around town!