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Feb 3, 2016 12:16 EST

JC STREET TREES: a citizen led Urban Forestry & Green Infrastructure initiative

iCrowdNewswire - Feb 3, 2016

JC STREET TREES is a citizen led Urban Forestry & Green Infrastructure initiative which seeks to do three things:

  1. Engage local community stakeholders in a citywide Neighborhood Tree Canopy Restoration & Tree Stewardship Program, by demonstrating how neighborhood leadership can be a driving force in creating innovative solutions to urban environmental challenges.
  2. Provide local municipal officials with useable data about Jersey City’s existing tree inventory and potential for additional tree planting sites, and allied rain gardens / bioswales, where feasible.
  3. Establish a credible metrics-based assessment process for citizens and municipal government, working together, to create new sustainability initiatives for a cleaner, greener and higher quality-of-life City, in which to live and work.

OUTCOMES OF THIS PROJECT

  • We intend for the evolving collaborative network forming around this initiative, to serve as a replicable model for both local neighborhoods, and for other municipalities, looking to develop civic engagement resolutions for urban ecological challenges.
  • We intend to credibly benchmark tree data, and make it available for a citywide urban forestry and green infrastructure implementation plan – one that will PRIORITIZE ‘CORRIDORS OF NEED’ for tree- poor neighborhoods – flood zones, CSO-sheds, and social / environmental justice hotspots within Jersey City.  To further prioritize these mapped opportunities, a correlation to  economic development districts needing revitalization can then be done.
  • We intend to develop and implement a case study-based approach to gather pertinent data and assess the streetscapes based on the CORRIDERS OF NEED criteria. This process will provide unbiased insight into best practices and corrective strategies based on Resilient Cities and Eco District models.  Tree data collection will focus on various street tree species and their  compatible relationship to specific locations. We will study the relationship between tree species, the optimal size of tree pits, and best care approaches for tree life longevity.
  • Assessment of various tree guard requirements, cost factors and engaging the artist community’s participation for innovative designs for tree guards and educational signage will also be part of the inventory system we are creating.
  • We intend to establish a task force focused on best practices in Urban Forestry that will hopefully lead to an appointed Shade Tree Commission, as a citywide municipal partner to oversee Jersey City urban forestry management into the future.
  • We intend to highlight opportunities to extend tree canopy amendments toward the effective installation of bioswales, rain gardens (and also, green roofs), for each neighborhood footprint.  This will include evaluation of the practicalities of implementing these and related green infrastructure community incentives to optimize stormwater management best practices in the more flood prone areas of Jersey City.
  • We intend to develop a cornerstone template for measuring the costs and benefits of urban forestry / green infrastructure installations in these CORRIDORS OF NEED.   
  • Lastly, we intend to inspire policy changes toward requirements for integration of green infrastructure by the development community, to serve the objectives of providing a more balanced ecology within the urban built environment, and  introduce the idea that sustainability focused economic development and stewardship is good business for Jersey City.

the steps

Working with Sustainable JC’s Green Infrastructure Team, we took the successful A Tree-Lined Bright Street, spearheaded by Nick Milak last Fall, and designed an expanded neighborhood demonstration project. By design, this project will focus on crowdsourced citizen data collection, neighborhood stakeholder engagement, and education-based activities. In addition, we are establishing local and regional partnerships to leverage a reversal of this widespread issue.  Next, we will apply this knowledge to develop a roadmap for collaborative teams to restore the tree canopy and expand green infrastructure installations throughout Jersey City. Click here for our October 3rd, 2015 Press Release.

Click here for a blog post featuring our methods during the Bright Street initiative.

  • Partnering with other community organizations, City agencies, and other benchmark initiatives to gain a greater reach and level of success.  
  • SJC’s GIS Team (led by Alina Tarmu and Lyndsey Scofield) also developed more technicalCartoDB maps  with the following CORRIDORS OF NEED criteria – flood zone, CSO-shed (combined sewer overflows), income census tract data and are working to overly other statistics relevant to social / environmental justice hotspots in JC, e.g., crime statistics – both for the targeted demonstration neighborhood and for each Ward in Jersey City.  The idea is to create a prioritization scheme for citywide implementation of tree canopy restoration based on the CORRIDORS OF NEED criteria and we are doing that analysis with the use of these other data driven tools.
    • Our evolving  Jersey City Tree Map illustrates 314 existing trees with the opportunity for an additional 105 trees. This count will most likely increase as dead or dying trees are realized from winter conditions.  
    • We have tested a structured SJC’s Collaborative Workspace Portal to serve as a project management platform and data reference repository for a citywide initiative. This platform will bring people, process and information together in one place to facilitate knowledge sharing and the success of the project.
  • SJC and NJ Tree Foundation have partnered to offer the Newark based NJTF TreeKeepers Workshop here in Jersey City.  We are replicating NJTF’s very successful community training program (CEUs offered) here in Jersey City, and expect to turn out 75 Tree Ambassadors as a local resource for this initiative.  This level of environmental stakeholder development and education has never been done here before.
  • Lastly, we’ve begun to plan for functional ways artists can contribute to core design aspects needed on this project, from the Tree Speech initiative above, to creative tree guards, to impactful ways of raising awareness and ‘teaching’ the public about urban ecological balance and sustainability – stay tuned !    

YES !! we’ve clocked a lot of hours planning and prepping this initiative ☺. Our wide-ranging and evolving dialog with advisors (special thanks to the Center for Sustainability at Ramapo College of New Jersey (Cfs-RCNJ) and Rutgers University School of Landscape Architecture!), and local thought leaders on this project initiative has been inspiring and humbling – this is a complex undertaking, with many moving parts and cost considerations.  Our TEAM is made up of a smart, interdisciplinary group of sustainability professionals and advocates, artists, students and neighborhood folks who really care about moving the needle here in Jersey City.  We’ve taken up subscribing to tools out of pocket ($) and put our personal lives on hold for awhile, in order to learn what works and what doesn’t, and to appoint a replicable model for ROLLING THIS OUT citywide!

why we’re doing it

In Spring 2015, the Jersey City Environmental Commission(JCEC) released a Tree Canopy Study it had commissioned, reflecting that only 17% of the City’s footprint had any tree cover.  The satellite imagery study showed, for a city our size and geography, the ideal canopy cover should be 44%.  Additionally, an on the ground assessment by JC Dept Public Works / Div of Parks & Forestry depicted 20% of the existing tree inventory in our city’s park system, was either diseased or dying.  The consequence has a multitude of negative implications, as we rely on trees to help with greenhouse gas emission absorption, habitat conservation, stormwater management, and a host of community quality-of-life issues.   Therefore, if the current scenario indicates an ecological crisis for Jersey City, and one that is rapidly worsening, what could we, as local citizens, do to fix this problem?  Mobilize ourselves!!

Contact Information:

JC Street Trees

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