By David Pendered
Atlanta is seeking proposals for the planting of 1,200 large trees throughout the city by April 2018. Varieties range from the beloved dogwood and magnolia to stately elm, beech and black walnut.
The tree-planting program is part of the city’s decade-old reforestation effort. This particular project addresses large, technical tree installations that are beyond the scope of community volunteers, according to the request for proposals.
For example, this project is in addition to the city’s contract with Trees Atlanta, signed last autumn, to plant about 4,000 trees around the city. The program relies on volunteers and targets areas where the tree canopy is less than 48 percent, which is the average tree coverage rate for the entire city according to a recent analysis.
The RFP envisions planting trees that are up to 14 feet high. The Trees Atlanta program plants trees about eight feet high. The RFP also calls for stump grinding services are maintenance through 2020.
Greg Levine, Trees Atlanta’s co-executive director and chief program officer, on Monday outlined the value of Atlanta’s tree canopy.
“It is the identity of the city,” Levine said. “Having a diverse and large forest canopy is much of what the country identifies with Atlanta being, ‘a city in a forest.’ We don’t have identity with mountains, or beach, or a river running through the city. We do grow some of the most beautiful specimens and diverse specimens in the country.”
The environmental benefits of a thriving forest include cleaning the air and stormwater runoff, as well as reducing the heat-island effect that results from paved and hard surfaces, Levine said.
Atlanta funds these tree-planting programs through its Tree Trust Fund.
The fund gets its money from fees paid for the removal of trees, both permitted and illegal removals. The notion is that people who destroy trees should pay recompense.
A twist in this year’s urban forestry contract is that companies interested in the job must submit a tree design plan for a park along the Atlanta BeltLine.
D.H. Stanton Park has been selected as a demonstration site. This is the park that was renovated at a cost of $4.5 and besieged by vandals soon after it was opened, in 2011. The park is in the Peoplestown neighborhood, a few blocks south of the half-way point between Turner Field and Zoo Atlanta.
At Stanton Park, proponents are to locate prospective sites for trees, determine if utilities could be damaged by a new tree, provide a two-year maintenance plan, and provide methods to track the trees’ health and report to the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
The chosen vendor is to distribute the trees across the city. Each council district is to receive no less than 30 trees. That means 360 of the 1,200 trees are to be allocated to meet the minimum planting requirement, according to the RFP.
The remaining 840 trees are to be planted in areas that have less than 48 percent tree canopy.
Another requirement is that 120 trees, of the 1,200 trees, are to be planted on private property abutting public rights of way. Trees are to be planted no farther than 20 feet from public property.
Finally, in a nod to the city’s effort to work in concert with residents, the RFP notes:
- “The Proponent will be expected to work with community members, political leadership, and City agencies in the delivery of services. As a public entity, City of Atlanta expects customer service excellence in engagement with citizens, business owners, and visitors.”