Ward 8 Woods, Casey Trees, and American Forests partnered to plant 16 trees in October 2022 at Bald Eagle Recreation Center in Washington DC. Trees were planted around the Recreation Center’s walking paths, sports fields, and play areas to encourage recreation, mitigate urban heat, support green workforce training, and improve community wellbeing. Funding from Zyrtec supported the planning, planting, and care of the trees.
The goal for this project was to increase tree equity in DC’s Ward 8 and improve a public recreation facility. Ward 8 ranks high in heat and flood vulnerability and has the second-fastest rate of canopy loss among the DC wards. About a quarter of Ward 8 families live in poverty, unemployment is three times the District-wide average, and residents have higher-than-average rates of diabetes, asthma, and obesity.
Volunteers from Zyrtec, American Forests, Anacostia Coordinating Council, and the District Department of Transportation joined for the tree planting event. Trees planted on and around the play areas will provide thermal refuge, encouraging outdoor play for children and youth visiting the Center. Families will enjoy spectating at events under the shade of the planted trees. The new shade trees will also provide important cooling during District heat emergencies, as the Recreation Center also serves as a local cooling center.
Long-term tree maintenance will be provided by Ward 8 Woods’ Park Stewards Program, a community-led greening initiative that provides employment and green career training for Ward 8 residents who face barriers to employment. The long-term maintenance will ensure that the community reaps the promised benefits of these trees to promote active recreation, play, and greater well-being.
Check out a snapshot of the project: Impact Report Summary
Every tree planting project demonstrates impacts that create a more just and sustainable future.
Urban Heat - 12
Active Living - 6
Wellness & Mental Health - 5
Social Health - 5
Site Selection - 3
Community Engagement in Design - 1
Community Participation in Implementation - 5
Economic Equity - 8
Climate Action - 13
Water Quality & Quantity - 9
Habitat, Food & Wood Production - 3
Bioremediation - 0
The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs are a global call for action. These goals have the power to build a better future for everyone. Investment in this impact project drives action towards the following goals.
Active living is a pathway to health protection and chronic disease prevention. Trees were planted around Recreation Center’s walking paths, sports fields, and play areas, encouraging outdoor recreation for children and youth visiting the Center.
Urban tree cover can maximize groundwater recharge and slow stormwater runoff. Trees were planted at the southwestern corner of the Recreation Center, which has experienced drainage problems in the past. Three trees were also planted on a slope to slow storm water runoff, improve drainage, and minimize erosion.
Ongoing community-based tree care is important for long-term stewardship and survival of the trees. At the same time, urban tree planting projects can create economic opportunities for communities. Trees for this project will be maintained by employees of Ward 8’s Park Stewards program, which provides living wages, meaningful work, and green career training to Ward 8 residents who face barriers to employment.
DC’s Ward 8 continues to feel the impact of discriminatory policies, environmental racism, and underinvestment. The Recreation Center is an informal education center for the community. By planting trees that improve the environment for outdoor play and recreation at the Recreation Center, the project helps promote psychological well-being and increase social resilience.
The Recreation Center is a vital resource for families and youth in the Ward 8 community. Beautifying and enhancing shade at the Center provides increased access to inclusive, accessible green space in Ward 8.
Trees lower cooling costs by reducing regional air temperatures and providing shade. They also act as a buffer against cold winds that strip away heat, thereby providing savings on the fuel needed to heat buildings. Trees were strategically planted around the Recreation Center to provide optimum shade and wind protection for reduced energy use.
Trees and forests in and around cities contribute to climate-change mitigation directly by sequestering carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These 16 project trees will store a projected 40.6 tons of CO2 if maintained for 25 years. Trees planted will also improve air quality, promote stormwater capture, and reduce heating and cooling costs.
The more heterogeneous, undisturbed and interconnected the green infrastructure, the more resilient will be the ecosystems it hosts. Trees planted represent a palette of 10 species that will increase biodiversity and interconnectivity between the nearby greenspaces.
Partnerships were a key part of this project. Three organizations – national nonprofit American Forests, DC-based nonprofit Casey Trees, and grassroots nonprofit Ward 8 Woods – each came together to provide their expertise and leadership on critical pieces of the project. They worked with the Bald Eagle Recreation Staff, the District Department of Transportation Urban Forestry Division, and the District Department of Parks and Recreation on tree selection and planting sites. The project was made possible with the support of Zyrtec.