Planting For The Future

The phone rings for the fourth time, and it’s only 8:30 a.m. A lady has heard from a neighbor that free trees are available for planting. Who should she talk to?

Helping to beautify Arlington, Texas, one tree at a time.

The volunteer who takes the call explains that all the information and forms she needs are available online, but the homeowner does not own a computer.

It’s the beginning of a typical day at the Forestry and Beautification (FAB) office, a division of the city’s parks and recreation department in Arlington, Texas.

Created in January 2008, FAB focuses on four primary areas:

• Maintenance of high-profile landscaped areas

• Care and growth of the urban forest

• Reforestation

• Environmental conservation and education.

Maintenance Of Landscaped Areas

FAB serves at the frontline for making the area more attractive to residents and visitors. The city’s national and international exposure is increasing by leaps and bounds due to development of the entertainment district, and two high-profile sporting venues — the Dallas Cowboys Stadium and Texas Rangers Ballpark.

FAB is responsible for more than 30,000 square feet of flower beds at 26 prominent locations throughout 145 miles of medians and right-of-ways. These aesthetically landscaped areas serve as visible reminders of the city’s commitment to quality of life for its 370,000-plus residents and more than 6.5 million annual visitors.

Over the past few years, the city’s focus has been on downtown redevelopment and continued growth of the entertainment district. Recent projects include:

• Center Street trail — A significant tree canopy was added to this corridor to improve aesthetics and enhance the usability of the street and trail. New landscaping at the entrance to the corridor, along bridges and on strategically located areas on the trail encourage walking on Center Street.

• Johnson Creek restoration — This portion of the creek is located between the Rangers ballpark and the new Cowboys stadium. Upon completion of restoration efforts and judicious plantings, this natural waterway corridor is expected to have smoother water flow to control flooding, reduce erosion and silting of the banks, and improve usability for recreation purposes. Phase 2 of this project began in late 2010.

• Interstate-30 corridor — This monumental project covers 2 miles of roadside along I-30. Amenities being added include 45,000 plants, irrigation, decorative historical panels, bridge amenities and lighting. New and existing landscape areas will be supported by a complex irrigation system that will provide water to flowers, shrubs and trees.

Care And Growth Of The Urban Forest

City leaders, increasingly concerned over heat-island effects and air quality in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, made a commitment to maintain and enhance Arlington’s urban forest. FAB maintains more than 10,000 trees in public spaces and medians in the city, and oversees the reforestation program aimed at ensuring a sustainable and healthy tree canopy for residents.

Under FAB’s direction, tree contractors assist with trimming or removing sick, damaged or hazardous trees throughout the city. Simultaneously, FAB maintains a tree farm to grow suitable species for those trees that must be removed due to age, disease or safety concerns. To assist with successful and healthy tree replacements, FAB has implemented a program for residents and businesses to replace trees at no cost.

The city also participates in Tree City USA, a program designed to promote natural beauty throughout urban areas. Arlington has been a member city since 1999, and has won six Growth Awards. These awards are given by the National Arbor Day Foundation not only to recognize achievement, but also to communicate new ideas and help leaders of all Tree City USA cities in educating their community on proper tree care.

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