County Program Provides Trees for Urban Areas to Increase Canopy

During this fall planting season, interested property owners can help to increase the tree canopy in the county’s urban areas with a free tree.

Under the Planning Department’s Shades of Green program, qualifying property owners can get a free tree planted, under certain conditions. For example, trees can’t be planted in street rights-of-way (publicly owned lands that typically include streets and sidewalks), and a site evaluation will be conducted to ensure the location is proper and there’s enough space for the tree.

Locally, the urban areas that are eligible for the program are Flower/Piney Branch, Montgomery Hills and the Silver Spring Central Business District.

According to the program’s web page, the Shades of Green program is financed through the Forest Conservation Fund, which is made up of contributions paid by developers to compensate for tree loss when planting new trees on the site is impractical.

In 2009, the Maryland State Department of Natural Resources changed the fund’s rules to allow the monies to be used to meet urban tree canopy goals, rather than only for forest mitigation.

Property owners can enter their address on the program’s web page to determine if they’re eligible for a Shades of Green tree and planting.

If not, there are other tree planting programs to consider participating in, including the Planning Department’s Leaves for Neighborhoods and the Department of Environmental Protection’s Tree Montgomery program.

Graphic from Montgomery County Planning Department

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