Community ReLeaf in Asbury Park


by Melinda Housholder, Urban Forests Program Director
A rain garden developed by the Asbury Park Environmental Shade Tree Commission in Asbury Park, N.J.

A few weeks ago, I went on a site visit to Asbury Park, N.J. Nope, not to visit the Stone Pony, one of the world’s best-known music venues and a favorite hot spot for visits by Bruce Springsteen. Even better, I was there to visit the trees.

Asbury Park is one of five inaugural Community ReLeaf project sites, which is why I found myself on my way to New Jersey. On my first day, I met with Tom Pivinski with the Asbury Park Environmental Shade Tree Commission and Lisa Simms with the New Jersey Tree Foundation to discuss the area’s urban forest and our Community ReLeaf project, which is assessing the urban forest in a number of ... (Read More)




California Dreamin’ of Clean Air


by Susan Laszewski
Pasadena highway

Taking deep breaths can help relieve stress, but depending on where you live, the air you breathe may lead to other health problems.

A new study by a team of MIT researchers has found that air pollution in the U.S. contributes to more than 200,000 premature deaths each year. The researchers tracked ground-level emissions from six different sectors, including industrial, residential and vehicular emissions. Their findings, published in Atmospheric Environment, show emissions from ground transportation to have the greatest impact on health, causing 53,000 early deaths each year.

The team also did a state-by-state analysis a... (Read More)




Showing Support for Clean Water


by Susan Laszewski
Stormwater flows onto a street

From basement backups to beach closures, polluted runoff can have big costs for communities.

In 2011, polluted runoff caused 47 percent of beach closing and advisory days. A study of 28 popular, yet polluted, beaches in Southern California calculated that swimmers suffered an estimated 1.5 million gastrointestinal illnesses, resulting in an economic loss of between $21 million and $51 million every year.

When it rains in cities or suburban areas with lots of roads and rooftops, rainwater is unable to soak into the ground. Instead, it begins to rapidly accumulate and flows quickly along the surface, where it picks up sedim... (Read More)




Community ReLeaf in Detroit


by Amanda Tai
Meeting in Rouge Park with Davey Resources Group, the Greening of Detroit, and the Friends of Rouge Park

Last week, Melinda Housholder and I, aka American Forests’ urban forest team, traveled to Detroit, Mich., the site of one of the Community ReLeaf 2013 projects. We had the opportunity to meet a lot of folks working on greening initiatives in Detroit and saw a lot of the city. It was a very interesting time to visit the city, being in the midst of its bankruptcy.

A few neighborhoods we drove past were well-maintained with beautifully landscaped traffic islands, but the majority of what we saw was abandoned houses and buildings with boarded-up windows. Many of the abandoned neighborhoods were only a short distance from Rouge Par... (Read More)




Keep Cool, Keep Clean


by Susan Laszewski
Stomata on a purple heart plant

Trees clean our air: In addition to absorbing CO2 and producing oxygen, they also play an important role in filtering some of the most common pollutants. During a heat wave, however, a method that plants employ to conserve water also prevents them from filtering as much pollution. When the ground is dry, plants close their stomata — pore-like openings — to keep water in, but the stomata are also the mechanism through which they absorb all that air pollution, including ozone. While atmospheric ozone protects us from harmful cosmic rays, close to the earth, it’s the primary component of smog. So while water stays in when plants clo... (Read More)