March 16, 2017
Mark Buscaino, Executive Director, Casey Trees
Committee on Transportation and the Environment
DOEE Performance Oversight Hearing
Good afternoon, my name is Mark Buscaino, Executive Director of Casey Trees. Our mission is to “restore, enhance, and protect the tree canopy of our nation’s capital.”
As you are well aware, there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty surrounding environmental policy at the federal level. It is therefore quite reassuring to see the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) actively address key environmental concerns facing our city through initiatives, a few examples of which are the Sustainable DC Plan, Climate Ready DC, and Canopy 3000.
Regarding tree canopy, I’m extremely pleased to report that we’re making steady progress. As Director Leif Dormsjo noted just this past Monday at DDOT’s performance hearing, recent satellite images analyzed by the Urban Forestry Administration and reviewed by Casey Trees show that the city’s tree canopy has increased from 36 to 38 percent. This milestone was achieved by sustained public-private efforts, and a key element in this success story is DOEE’s integration of tree canopy into the stormwater and water quality programs it oversees.
The District’s stormwater Permit (MS4) with the EPA calls for the installation of rainbarrels, raingardens and – tree planting – to reduce stormwater to help minimize pollutants from entering streams and rivers through the successful RiverSmart Homes program. DOEE has woven tree canopy goals into their Watershed Implementation Plans for the Chesapeake Bay and local tributary Total Maximum Daily Loads, and also have encouraged the planting of trees through its Schoolyard and Parkland Tree Planting Grants. Most notably, DOEE has entered into a successful inter-agency collaboration with DDOT for the planting of trees citywide through the Canopy 3000 initiative.
But DOEE’s efforts don’t stop there. DOEE’s Green Zone Environmental Program (GZEP) provides young adults a “hands-on” opportunity to learn about energy and environmental issues, preparing them for a future in the green economy. This program has the potential to be extremely useful – but not just to keep raingardens maintained and newly-planted trees watered and cared for. It also provides a path to full-time employment for youth through skill development while at the same time helping the city maintain its green infrastructure. I encourage you to continue supporting GZEP for the long-term positive impacts it will have for the lives of DC’s youth.
To continue the progress we’ve seen in attainment of the 40% Canopy Goal, Casey Trees recommends that the DOEE: 1) accelerate tree plantings on private residential and commercial properties through the RiverSmart homes program, and; 2) prioritize tree planting on schools, parks, and other DC properties in partnership with DDOT’s Urban Forestry Administration.
DOEE is an invaluable player in keeping the natural environment of the District healthy and sustainable for lives of its citizens, and we applaud DOEE’s Director and his dedicated staff for their focus and hard work. Finally, at Casey Trees we remain committed in our support to attain the goals we share with DOEE, and we are honored to be part of such a successful public-private partnership.