Urban Forest Advisory Committee

Project Title:  Urban Forest Advisory Committee
Project Location:
Dallas City Hall, 1500 Marilla, Dallas, Texas 75201
Project Website:
https://dallastrees.org

The Urban Forest Advisory Committee advises the Dallas City Council and Mayor on tree-related issues; works with city officials to create, maintain, and protect the city’s trees and forests; and educates citizens about the importance of, and proper care of, trees.

Volunteers attend monthly UFAC meetings to stay informed about policies and projects to conserve Dallas trees, conduct community tree plantings, and participate in public education events. The committee also works with the Citizen Forester Program. Contact the Project Leader/Contact Person for the current meeting location and dates.

2023 Activities – 3 volunteers with 168 hours of service performed

The Urban Forest Advisory Committee (UFAC) serves in an advisory capacity on matters of environmental stewardship, specifically concerning the care, maintenance, and planting of trees in our urban forest by advocating sound arboricultural and urban forest management practices. The Committee provides proactive leadership for the development of public policy and serves to educate citizens of Dallas regarding the numerous environmental, recreational, social, and aesthetic benefits of a thriving urban forest. The committee is authorized to study, plan, advise, report, and make recommendations on plans, programs, or city codes which the Council or Park and Recreation Board determines necessary or advisable for the care, conservation, planting, pruning, removal, or disposition of trees citywide.

Volunteers attend monthly UFAC meetings to stay informed about policies and projects to conserve Dallas trees, conduct community tree plantings, and participate in public education events. The committee also works with the Citizen Forester Program. Contact the Project Leader/Contact Person for the current meeting location and dates.

A brief description of volunteer activities in 2023 include the following areas of focus:

Worked to educate city officials regarding current forest conditions/problems and the need to better manage our urban forest.  We strongly urged officials to increase financial support (equipment and staff) for foresters and arborists in four different city departments (as we do each year).  We were able to prevent budget cuts that were threatened but were not able to secure additional funding.

Worked to establish a neighborhood forest overlay (NFO) in a prominent neighborhood.  The NFO helps to conserve trees in a neighborhood by taking parts of the tree ordinance and applying them to homeowners.  Since the concept has not been used around the nation, it is taking time to work through the many details.

Worked with the Chief Arborist and other officials to increase the basic value of trees which is used for mitigation purposes.  When trees are removed, a basic value is placed on them that is used to determine the cost to replace the lost trees.  The basic value of each inch of tree has increased within the industry and the city needs to increase the amount to comply with current accepted value.  We expect the increase to be approved in early 2024.

Worked to educate city officials and the public regarding climate change, including what to expect and recommendations to help offset the problems.

Worked to educate city officials and the public regarding the large number of trees lost in the past due to construction and provided recommendations to preserve more existing trees and plant more in the future.

Worked to educate city officials and the public about a highly destructive, nonnative pest found in our area in the past few years (Emerald Ash Borer) and provided recommendations on how to best manage the problems.

For further information the following is a cut and paste of a small part of the annual report to the Mayor and City Council:

Climate Change:

  1. Global climate change is accelerating, and human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases are the overwhelming cause according to a landmark report released by the United Nations. According to the United Nation’s report, climate change is expected to worsen over the next century as greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, a trend that experts say will have severe consequences for the health of forests worldwide. As the climate changes, the trees in the Dallas urban forest and Great Trinity Forest may not be able to adapt to the extremes in weather and:
  1. may need to be replaced by different species of trees that are more likely to survive.
  2. drought tolerant species as well as those that will provide for better air quality, should be planted in the future.
  3. Additionally, Dallas has been a “non-attainment” area relative to federal air quality standards for over 27 years and children asthma cases are on the rise—the importance of tree replanting cannot be underestimated.
  1. Higher temperatures and drought are likely to increase the severity, frequency, and potential of wildfires in Dallas and adjacent area, which could harm property, livelihoods, and human health. On average, more than one percent (1%) of the land in Texas has burned each decade since 1984. Wildfire smoke pollutes the air and can increase medical visits for respiratory and heart problems. The ongoing drought shows no sign of stopping through next spring. As a result, many trees will die due to a lack of water. This is especially true on public lands where there is no irrigation present. Furthermore, trees recently planted on public property will need additional monitoring and irrigation, which will require more funds and staff for forestry crews.

As elsewhere in the United States, wildfires are an increasing threat to communities across Dallas.

Construction Development

Development is necessary and valuable for the Dallas economy, the downside is that more trees in our urban forest are being cut down, many large and beneficial to the neighborhood, rather than being re-planted or replaced in-kind.

Emerald Ash Borer (“EAB”)

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is the latest invasive bug threatening trees in North Texas. The Ash trees are at risk with no known predator to this small but damaging bug. The insect has the potential to wipe out all Ash trees in our Dallas region and the Great Trinity Forest. Further investigation of an insecticide that is environmentally friendly to beneficial insects and animals is in process.

Recommendations to Mitigate the Challenges

  1. Fund and map environmental injustices relative to climate change in assessing Dallas neighborhood environmental health and equity.
  2. Adopting and enacting all the goals listed in the Dallas Urban Forest Master Plan.
  3. Removal of the ability of Planned Development to skirt around the Landscape and Tree Ordinance or Article 10.
  4. Continue to publicize tree planting opportunities and Citizen Forester classes which take place in the fall.
  5. Continue UFAC community education and outreach, included staffing a booth at Oak Cliff Earth Day, where information is discriminated relative to climate change, construction development, EAB treatment, and getting trees planted in neighborhoods through the “Reforestation Fund.”

 

 

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