Activists are continuing to press their effort to get the Arlington County government to initiate another study of tree canopy in Arlington, but seem at best to be receiving a lukewarm response.
“There are surplus funds available” to conduct a new study,” said Mary Glass of the Arlington Tree Action Group, who wants the county government to move beyond a 2016 study that showed a largely stable canopy of trees in the county.
“To date, we’ve had no response,” Glass said during a phone-in comment at the County Board’s Nov. 13 meeting. She pressed county leaders to “open a two-way, face-to-face dialogue.”
“I hope that we will move expeditiously,” she said.
The 2016 study has been challenged by critics, who say the methodology was wrong and that there actually is a declining amount of tree canopy in the county. Those critics have been equally vocal that the county government is not doing as much as it has the power to do in stemming tree-canopy loss.
Earlier this year, the Arlington County Civic Federation got into the act, passing a resolution calling for a new tree study. When the resolution was transmitted to County Board members, the response was noncommittal.
Noncommittal also seemed to be the response to Glass’s Nov. 15 comments.
“We will certainly follow up,” County Board Chairman Matt de Ferranti said. “Your points have relevance and are important.”
The 2016 study, with findings released in 2017, estimated that Arlington’s roughly 750,000 trees – three for every resident – provide a canopy over about 41 percent of the county. That was up from 40 percent in a 2011 survey but down from 43 percent in 2008.
(The figures do not include Department of Defense properties or Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport; if they were included, the percentages would be slightly lower.)
After the last report was issued in 2017, there were months of regular sparring between the Arlington Tree Action Group and other activists on one side, several county leaders on the other, over the results.