Letters to the Editor: We Must Maintain Falls Church’s Tree Canopy

Letters to the Editor: December 5 – 11, 2019

We Must Maintain Falls Church’s Tree Canopy


Last week’s Guest Commentary “Mature Trees and Residential Redevelopment in F.C.” is testimony to the excellent job done by City Arborist Kate Reich. She correctly points out the loss of tree canopy coverage by the reported residential redevelopment affecting 1 percent of the city’s land each year. This doesn’t sound like much but do the math and in 10 years we suffer from numerous “gaping holes” in the tree canopy. As the author states, “larger home footprints mean reduced landscape space after redevelopment, more mature trees are being removed than protected.”

I diverge from Ms. Reich on the issue of developers who with few exceptions prefer to clear cut a lot in order to build a house quickly and move on. I also believe the requirement of achieving 20 percent canopy cover within 10 years on a newly developed lot is not strict enough — it is too arbitrary and too easy for developers to horse around by planting a new tree or two and being done with it. Where are the developers in 10 years when the 20 percent canopy is not achieved and who is even measuring it?

I urge the F.C. City Council to adopt stronger measures for preserving more trees on residential property including both incentives and restrictions as recommended by the Urban Forestry Commission. Additionally and maybe more importantly, the City Council should reconsider the allowable size of new homes. We are all responsible for “voluntarily maintaining healthy trees on our own properties” but there is little we can do individually about the increasing number of “gaping holes.” It is up to City Council to take action and work with home owners and developers alike to maintain the 46 percent tree canopy coverage that currently exists in Falls Church.

Curtis Schaeffer

Falls Church

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