Mission & History
To restore, enhance and protect the tree canopy of the nation’s capital.
The story of Washington D.C.’s trees extends back to our first President, George Washington, a tree-lover and avid horticulturalist who chose the city’s location and the man who originally designed it – Pierre L’Enfant. Planned to support a lush tree canopy with extensive green spaces and tree lined boulevards, D.C. still boasts more greenspace per capita than any other city in the United States. Some consider D.C. as the birthplace of arboriculture due to the tens of thousands of trees planted here in the 1800’s which earned D.C. its nickname, the “City of Trees.”
Estimated to support approximately 50% tree canopy in 1950, DC’s canopy in 2011 declined to just over 35%. A Washington Post article chronicling this decline encouraged Betty Brown Casey, a longtime area resident, to establish Casey Trees in 2002 with its mission: “To restore, enhance and protect the tree canopy of the Nation’s Capital.”
Since then, Casey Trees has set a goal of attaining 40% canopy by 2035; planted over 17,500 trees; educated thousands of residents about the importance of urban tree canopy; supported the tree planting efforts of the D.C. Government, the National Parks Service, community groups and residents alike; inventoried and tracked the District’s tree resources to promote continued public funding for D.C.’s trees; advocated for green, tree friendly development and similar pursuits.
To help support the work of Casey Trees, in 2008 Mrs. Casey gifted her summer home, now known as Casey Tree Farm in Berryville, VA, to the organization. “The Farm” is used primarily to grow trees for Casey Trees’ planting programs, and has allowed it to extend its reach outside the District of Columbia.
In October of 2010 Casey Trees relocated to its newly constructed headquarters in the Brookland neighborhood of Ward 5. A 10,000 square foot structure, the building not only houses our office operations, but also serves as a model for small-scale Low Impact Development using trees planted in bio-infiltration planters to control all the stormwater generated from the site.
In October of 2012, Casey Trees opened its Tree Planting Annex at 3015 12th Street NE directly across from our 3030 headquarters. The Annex, a former gas station, was renovated to house the staff, equipment and tree storage needs of our Tree Planting Department. Through photovoltaic panels the Annex generates most of its energy needs from the sun, and a rain garden on site controls its stormwater.
Casey Trees is committed to restoring, enhancing and protecting the tree canopy of the nation’s capital for the long term.