Blog Post By Gabrielle Rovegno

Summer of Partners

Before we dive into another planting season (yay fall! Have you registered for an event yet?), we thought it would be fun to look back and see what kept us busy when we couldn’t plant this summer.

What’s on everyone’s mind in the summer? Being by the water, obviously! So we kept that in mind when brainstorming summer classes that tie together two of the Sustainable D.C. Plan goals (and involve some of our forestry friends!). We stay focused on our mission to reach 40% tree canopy by 2032, but the other goal we’re interested in is increasing the area of wetland around the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers by 50% by 2032.

Fun fact: A swamp is a type of wetland that is characterized by the presence of trees, whereas a marsh is a wetland characterized by the presence of grasses. While on tour with the National Park Service (NPS) and Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS), we made the joke that nationally folks talk about D.C. and “draining the swamp”, but locally, it’s our environmental goal to “reforest the swamp.” We’ve done that through Community Tree Plantings at critical shoreline reclamation sites like Kingman and Heritage Islands, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Anacostia Park!

Discussing the various stormwater features of the Anacostia Neighborhood Library

We kicked off summer going back to Pope Branch Park, where the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) had recently completed a walking trail. We hosted a mindfulness “Wild and Well” walk there. The benefits of spending time around trees and natures are well documented and we were grateful to be able to share this with more folks.

We kept the fun rolling throughout June with a Tree Walk around the Tidal Basin with NPS Ranger Dorene Ruffing. We talked about the construction of East and West Potomac Park and the relationship between the trees on this “reclaimed” land and the waterway. Main take away, humans call the dredging of the Potomac River the reclamation, but since the early 1900’s when that project was completed, the river has been since trying to reclaim its natural banks back.

In July, we worked with old friends at District Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE)! Our joint class “Roots to Rivers: How Trees Improve our Waterways”. This class focused on the role trees play in our watershed: erosion control, stream restoration etc. We had this class at the environmentally friendly LEED-Gold certified Anacostia Neighborhood Library. Its bio-retention pond provided the perfect backdrop! We also had a Librarian talk about the architecture of the Library, which was designed by Phil Freelon, the architect behind the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.

And finally in August, the “Sunday of summer”, we were thrilled to be a part of AWS’ Discovery Series Canoe Tour. We paddled to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and shared similar themes to the Tidal Basin Tree Walk, but in the context of the Anacostia River. We touched on the area’s deforestation for tobacco, which was the beginning of the turbulent fate of the Anacostia River and its surrounding neighborhoods.

The fun doesn’t stop there!

You can still celebrate summer with us as we wrap up with the First Annual Pawpaw Party. We’ll be Oxon Run Park on September 14 from 11am-2pm. We’ll be paying tribute to North America’s largest indigenous fruit!

Plus, fun isn’t limited to the District – we’re hosting the Green Cities Summit with Montgomery Parks! At the one day conference, we will hear from keynote speakers Sonja Duempelmann and Michael Dirr! All arborists, landscape industry and environmental/green industry professionals, engineers, designers, housing developers, and interested citizens are encouraged and welcome to join us as we discuss trees and the built environment. There’s a lot to talk about!

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