DPR Performance Testimony of Allan Rey – 2022

Councilmember Trayon White
Committee on Recreation and Youth Affairs
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20004 

January 25, 2022 

Subject: Casey Trees Comments Performance Oversight for the Department of Parks and Recreation 

Dear Councilmember White, 

Casey Trees’ mission is to restore, enhance and protect the tree canopy of our nation’s capital. We do this by planting trees, advocating for the protection of trees and greenspace and teaching residents of all ages about the value of trees. 

Casey Trees commends the staff of the Department of Parks and Recreation on their efforts to provide our city’s residents with the parks and green spaces that enhance our quality of life and are critical to our physical and mental health. During the pandemic it became clear that these spaces are not just nice to have, they are necessary to the wellbeing of our children and our communities.   

Casey Trees works hand in hand with DPR on many fronts, from educational programming to tree plantings.  We see firsthand the good work they do, and are renewing our MOU with DPR in order to continue this successful partnership. This year we jointly engaged community members through “Meet in Your Park” style events and provided our TreeWise, Junior Urban Forester program as an enhancement to youth summer camps. This program is rich in connecting school aged youth to their natural environment through trees. When we teach younger generations about the value of trees and green space, we instill a love for nature that ensures our city’s tree-filled legacy continues.   

In addition to youth programming, Casey Trees conducts Community Tree Plantings and Tree Care events at DPR facilities. Casey Trees worked with DPR over the past year to conduct plantings and tree care at Riggs LaSalle Rec Center, Takoma Rec Center, Dakota playground, and Oxon Run Park to name a few. We look forward to planting trees this spring at six additional sites, and at the Langdon Park/Recreation Center to engage community members in invasive removal, tree care, and creation of a forest path.  

Recently, the District acquired new land cover data that shows from 2015-2020 our city’s tree canopy decreased by 1%, with the largest decreases seen in our city’s public lands and parks.  Now, more than ever, it is critical that we prioritize protecting and enhancing our city’s green spaces and tree canopy.   

We commend DPR’s goals in the Ready to Play Master Plan, particularly their commitment to promoting climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable parks and recreational facilities that provide safe, accessible, and inclusive access to nature and recreational opportunities.  The Joy Evans Therapeutic Rec Center and the Fort Lincoln Park/Theodore Hagans Cultural Center are great examples of park plans that prioritize preserving and enhancing tree canopy and include innovative biophilic design that connects our residents to the healing power of nature. 

When we invest in our parks and recreation centers, we invest in our community.  When we invest in our community, we build a stronger DC. This coming year, we should increase the investments made to support DPR, particularly to ensure they have adequate staffing and resources to design and implement green and sustainable parks. Our parks are meeting places, and a means for respite in chaotic times.  They bring diverse communities together and create a sense of place, they are natural assets that increase the health and enhance the quality of life for all DC residents.  

Thank you, 

Allan Rey
Managing Arborist, Casey Trees