Blog Post By Jona Elwell

Forever Wild: Four New Conservation Easements in D.C.

As a part of D.C.’s Vacant to Vibrant campaign that aims to utilize vacant lots throughout the District in constructive and creative ways, we are working with D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to create and protect conservation easements.

While they sound complex, a conservation easement is a restriction placed on a piece of land ensuring that it stays undeveloped in perpetuity, protecting trees and other vegetation (which aligns closely with our mission).

Obviously, we’re a big fan. Giving vacant, unloved space a purpose? A purpose that adds greenspace and better the lives of capital city dwellers? Yes, please!

We kicked off the campaign over the summer at our first location in Riggs Park and we’ve been chugging along ever since. This past month we secured *four*more* locations as conservation easements, ensuring they’re forever wild. Better yet? All four easements are in locations with historically low rates of tree canopy and green space. This is just one of the ways we hope to shift those rates.

Our Executive Director Mark Buscaino summed it up nicely, “I’m pleased and proud to say that Casey Trees has conservations that we hold in the city. These are all parcels of land that will never be developed and remain green in perpetuity – it’s a pretty cool thing. It’s been quite a road we’ve traveled with the city and I’m thrilled to work with DHCD on a project like this.”

First up is a patch of roughly 2,762 square feet nestled on 30th Street Southeast in the Buena Vista area of D.C. – a quick jaunt from either the Naylor Road Metro Station or Oxon Run Park. In the midst of a neighborhood, this green patch provides stormwater management benefits and protects many of the large trees that currently sit on the property.

Further north lies our next site on Sheriff Road NE, pictured at the top of this article. We saved roughly 8,714 square feet in Deanwood, provides greenspace for all and shade for bus shelters. With magnolia, dogwood, redbud, river birch, and weeping willow trees, this property offers quite a lot in terms of canopy potential. These four lots, and the approximately 20 trees they contain will remain lush and green for all of Deanwood.

The last two easements may have been lots that would have been easy to build on but our next parcel we saved is a funny shaped lil dude in Southeast, right around the corner from the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. 1430 Morris Road SE is an unassuming triangle patch of land on the corner of Morris Road and Bryant Place. While they’re might not be significant trees or vegetation on this 3,084 square foot patch, by remaining untouched and green, this property will provide open space and be key in stormwater management for the neighborhood. No impervious surfaces = great for absorbing rainwater runoff.

Our final conservation easement hits close to our Brookland home; it sits just north of us in the Lamond Riggs neighborhood of Northeast D.C. Bound by New Hampshire Ave NE, Oglethorpe Street NE, at roughly 23,249 square feet this is our largest easement! Its dense canopy contains a multitude of trees ranging from 4 inch saplings to 20 inch trees with many benefits. Better yet? The tree diversity is impressive, with locust, elm, maple, pine and oak trees. This green patch will keep neighbors shaded, block noise from neighboring New Hampshire Ave and the railroad and help absorb stormwater runoff.

Considering the terms of an easement dictate that all non-plantable space cannot exceed five percent of the total space, these green patches will remain that way! We’re thrilled to be part of a campaign that not only beautifies D.C., but takes advantage of all green space pockets in a city.

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