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ArlingtonCivic body seeks update to tree-canopy data, soon

Civic body seeks update to tree-canopy data, soon

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“Don’t call us, but we promise we’ll call you” appears to sum up the Arlington County government’s reaction to an Arlington County Civic Federation call for an expeditious effort to update an analysis of the county’s tree canopy.

Civic Federation delegates on March 16 overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on the county government to “immediately” move forward on a new study of tree canopy. Such an effort could take just two to three months and cost just $20,000 to $40,000, the resolution suggested.

The vote among the delegates in attendance stood at 85 percent in favor, 5 percent against, 8 percent abstaining and 2 percent not voting. Civic Federation Allan Gajadhar brought the matter before the County Board on March 20.

The board’s reaction? Effectively: Cross our hearts, we’ll get back to you.
“We appreciate the work, and will follow up,” said County Board Chairman Matt de Ferranti, after first asking County Manager Mark Schwartz if he had any update. (Schwartz did not.)

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The Arlington government last conducted a tree inventory in 2016, reporting the findings in 2017. The roughly 750,000 trees in the county’s 26 square miles cover about 41 percent of the county’s ground area, the study contended – up from 40 percent in a 2011 survey but down from 43 percent in 2008.

(Percentages do not include Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport or Department of Defense property, including the Pentagon. If those were included, the tree-canopy coverage would be slightly lower.)

That 2017 survey led to a year or more of (there’s no better word for it) bickering between tree advocates and some County Board members over what the data actually said, and what the county government should be doing to address them.

The back and forth seemed to infuriate a number of County Board members, none more so than Christian Dorsey, who at times became unusually combative when the subject came up.

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