The City of Falls Church was awarded a first-place winner in the 2009 Virginia Municipal League Achievement Awards competition for its tree planting program. The VML Award plaque will be presented at tonight’s City Council meeting.
The City received the award for its “Branching Out” tree-planting initiative in the category for communities with populations between 10,001 and 35,000. The program builds upon the city’s longstanding commitment of planting trees in public rights of way by expanding the plantings onto private property.
“Branching Out ” is a relatively new undertaking of the Neighborhood Tree Program (NTP), a public-private partnership of the City of Falls Church, and the Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society. The NTP is managed through the City’s Urban Forestry program.
It begun with a pilot program in the fall of 2008 to increase planting opportunities in healthy locations for shade trees. It expanded the original scope of the NTP from planting street trees in viable locations on public property to planting trees on private property within 15 feet of streets. The purpose of “Branching Out” is to increase the City’s tree canopy from 25 percent to the national recognized target of 40 percent for a healthy watershed. The program strives to augment the shading of City streets by planting additional trees near the streets instead of limiting the planting efforts to narrow strips next to the streets.
Judges described the City’s winning entry this way: “Planting trees is a way of life for Falls Church, but devising and executing a cost-effective program that included the planting of trees on private property in addition to rights of way – is truly innovative. Urban areas across the Commonwealth can duplicate the Falls Church blueprint for increasing the canopy in their communities. Involving the community in the planting of trees and in raising money for the effort is a smart way to ensure sustainability of the program.”
The Virginia Municipal League is a statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan association of city, town and county governments established in 1905 to improve and assist local governments through legislative advocacy, research, education and other services. The membership includes all 39 cities in the state, 156 towns and 11 counties. The City of Falls Church received the award on Oct. 20 during the league’s annual conference in Roanoke.
Source: Falls Church City Communications