Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Some Washington Notes

* Last week, the Washington Post had an article on attempts to quantify the benefits of urban trees in monetary terms. The effect is most noticeable in weather as hot as we have had for the last few weeks; shade can lower air conditioning costs and reduce street-level temperatures. Trees also help filter pollutants out of the air. Currently 28.6 percent of Washington is shaded by trees, a decline from the 37 percent canopy measured in 1973.

* The Casey Trees Endowment Fund, one of the local groups publicizing such cost-benefit analysis, maintains a tree map that allows you to see how the trees on your block are faring. According to this map, my block has 7 healthy trees, 11 unhealthy trees, and 3 dead trees. Looking at the gingkos that line my street, I would agree with their assessment. Somehow they missed the tiny ailanthus growing out of the rooftop next to my window.

* The DC Sierra Club has notes on ten trees not to plant. If I could add an eleventh tree to that list it would be the gingko, which provides little shade, does not hold up well during storms, and drops foul fruit in autumn. Unfortunately quite a lot of our street trees in D.C. are gingkos, including most of the trees on my block; my hope is that as these die, they are replaced with better options.

* I found a page (with photographs) about Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, one of my favorite birding spots in D.C. The page is part of the Birding America website, which includes trip reports from many other sites across the United States.

* Finally, one blogger is trying to emphasize the positive (and quirky) aspects of living in Washington with his DC-Streets blog.