January 23, 2017
Chief of Planning, Compliance and Geographic Information Systems
National Park Service National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive SW
Washington, DC 20242
Re: Comments on Buzzard Point Park Concept Designs
Dear Ms. Stidham,
Casey Trees is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit, with a mission “to restore, enhance, and protect the tree canopy of the nation’s capital.” To fulfill this mission, we plant trees; monitor the city’s tree canopy; and work with local decision-makers, developers, and residents to prioritize the District’s trees. We are committed to helping the District achieve its 40 percent tree canopy goal, and are excited to provide recommendations on the design of Buzzard Point Park.
The redesign of Buzzard Point Park is tremendous opportunity to transform underused river front property into a neighborhood treasure residents will enjoy for generations. Residents at the first community meeting voiced a preference for trees and passive green space over hard surfaces and recreational spaces. The site should also reflect the environmental agenda of the Buzzard Point Urban Design Framework. This framework, released in 2014, outlines the environmental issues present in the Buzzard Point area of Southwest, and sets goals for “improving the public realm and physical environment.”
After analyzing the two concept designs, we offer the following suggestions to provide a serene forested space for residents and boost Ward 6’s 17% tree canopy cover (which is dramatically lower than any other ward in the city):
1. Adopt a 45% tree canopy goal: Large trees do more than look beautiful. They absorb stormwater, improve air quality, and help keep the District cooler. Trees also provide important habitat for DC’s diverse wildlife. Tree canopy currently covers 35%, of the park (Figure 1). A 45% tree canopy cover is achievable because our analysis shows that there is potential for approximately 50% tree canopy with either concept design (Figures 2 and 3).
2. Combine select design elements from Concepts 1 and 2: We suggest locating the Anacostia River Walk Trail on land, lining the trail with trees, and planting trees in all available open spaces to maximize tree canopy. Lining the trail with trees will increase walkability, and offer shade to users during hot summer months.
3. Plant a diverse palate of trees and protect existing trees: Maintain existing healthy trees and plant urban-hearty, water-loving trees at Buzzard Point Park. Prioritize large shade trees to maximize environmental benefits. To increase resilience, plant multiple tree species and follow the 10-20-30 rule for tree diversity: include only 10% of any one species, 20% of any one genus and 30% of any family of trees. Consider working with Casey Trees to establish a planting plan or reference our Urban Tree Selection Guide to identify trees ideal for this space.
4. Collaborate with other Buzzard Point Applicants to connect the Anacostia River Walk Trail: To promote access to trees and green space along the Anacostia River, we suggest working with Jemal’s Lazriv Water LLC (the owner of square 666, 1900 Half Street) and Florida Rock Properties (the owner of zoning squares 664E, 707, and 708) to ensure a smooth expansion of the Anacostia River Walk Trail (Figure 4).
Thank you for the opportunity to comment. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-349-1892.
Kristin D. Taddei