Community ReLeaf — Detroit

Rouge Park, with its 1,184 acres of forest and park land, is an urban oasis that protects and enhances nearly two miles of the Rouge River. It has served as an outdoor recreational destination for Detroit residents since its acquisition in the 1920s. Decades of population decline and resultant economic challenges, evidenced by a lack of park maintenance, boarded buildings, stream bed erosion, loss of forest canopy and public safety concerns, have diminished the park’s recreational and ecological value.

Grand Circus Park. Credit: Mike Russell

Detroit’s Grand Circus Park. Credit: Mike Russell

Nevertheless, as the last tract of forest in Detroit, the park provides critical ecological and socioeconomic benefits for a highly populated and industrialized region within the Great Lakes basin. Forests, tallgrass prairies and other open spaces in the park reduce peak stormwater flow and pollutants that degrade the Rouge River, filter airborne pollutants and connect residents with natural systems not commonly found in American cities.

Key Findings:

  • River Rouge Park’s trees provide an equivalent of $2.48 million in public benefits each year, including filtering air pollution, sequestering carbon and controlling rainwater.
  • Rouge Park’s trees store 19,600 tons of carbon — a $1.40 million value.
  • Trees in Rouge Park provide an essential stormwater benefit to Detroit reducing surface runoff by an estimated 2.74 million cubic feet valued at $185,000 annually.
  • The replacement cost for the park’s trees, if lost, would be $84 million.

Read the full Assessment Report.

Tree Planting Events:
American Forests and local partners will work the community in fall 2014 to have coordinated successful restoration plantings.

Additional resources for Detroit’s urban forest:
Connect with our local partner or read our case study of Detroit for more information on the city’s urban forest:

Critical Issues