Trees Make Urban Communities More Livable


by Amanda Tai

I’ve already talked about the importance of trees in urban areas and the many benefits they provide — like increased opportunities for outdoor recreation, community economic growth and improved air quality. Now, the buzz around urban forests has reached the ears of Congress with the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act, H.R. 709. The bill’s language requires the Department of Housing and Urban Development to establish and administer a grant-giving program for park and recreational projects in urban areas. Many types of projects could be funded by this program, like planting trees in an abandoned lot to turn it into a comm... (Read More)




Batty for Urban Wildlife


by Melinda Housholder, Urban Forests Program Director
Black-crowned night heron

Every year from mid-March to early November, up to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats hang out and make roost under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin, Texas. As the largest urban bat colony in North America, these bats have created a very unique tourist attraction in the city, as more than 100,000 visitors come each year to check them out, generating millions of dollars in tourism revenue annually. Not to mention that these bats will eat 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of insects each night during their flights around the city. Thank goodness for bats!

As many of us have likely witnessed, urban environments can offer a... (Read More)




Father of Landscape Architecture and Urban Parks


by Loose Leaf Team
A portrait of Frederick Law Olmsted by John Singer Sargent

By Michelle Werts

Last week, we celebrated the birthday of the “Father of National Parks.” Today, we’re recognizing another famous father.

Frederick Law Olmsted, aka “Father of Landscape Architecture” and creator of many of America’s famous urban parks, was born on this date in 1822. During a century in which America was rapidly expanding and becoming more urban, Olmsted recognized the importance of green spaces for not only their beauty, but also for how they could help reduce stress and allow people a quiet escape from the demands of a busy world.

As a result, some of today’s larg... (Read More)




Keeping Sewage Out of Our Water


by Melinda Housholder, Urban Forests Program Director
Combined sewer overflow on the Woonasquatucket River in Providence, Rhode Island

Sewage in our rivers? Yuck!

I was really disturbed when I learned a few years ago about combined sewer systems — where sewage and rainwater is collected in one pipe system — and just how many cities have these. Although no longer built into new communities, more than 770 older cities still use their combined sewer that was built back in the day, including my own city of Washington, D.C. Combined sewers may have once been thought to be convenient for urban landscapes, as they collect the wastewater from your toilets, the wastewater from industrial sites and the water that drains from rooftops and roads after rainfall (called ... (Read More)




Urban Forests Go to the Hill


by Melinda Housholder, Urban Forests Program Director
Airplane

Earlier this month, American Forests joined forces with other members of the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition (SUFC) and took to Capitol Hill to speak up for urban forests across the country.

As part of the SUFC annual “fly-in,” constituents from all over the country met up in D.C. to talk with their political representatives about their urban forests. Together, we held more than 40 meetings on the Hill, having discussions with staffers and sometimes even the congressional members themselves.

Throughout the fly-in, I went with a constituent from Minnesota to visit four different Minnesota offices. We met with staff... (Read More)