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Next Step Taken in Reforestation Efforts

Next Step Taken in Reforestation Efforts

February 9, 2021

The City of Cedar Rapids is taking the next step in reforestation efforts with a proposal to fund the planning for ReLeaf Cedar Rapids on the City Council agenda today. ReLeaf Cedar Rapids is an initiative to guide and implement the reforestation of Cedar Rapids on behalf of, and with, both the community and the City. Planting efforts are already underway and will continue throughout 2021 and beyond, prior to the full completion of the plan which is scheduled for this fall.

“It will take years to restore the trees that were lost, and that’s why it is so important that we begin the work quickly with a strong plan to move forward,” said City Manager Jeff Pomeranz. “Our community has an opportunity to not only plant trees, but to do so in a meaningful and equitable way that maximizes long-term benefits.”

City Council will be asked to approve a Memorandum of Understanding with Trees Forever to lead the initiative in coordination with consultant experts including Jeff Speck of Speck & Associates, and Confluence, Inc. The organizations will work collaboratively to develop a long-term reforestation effort that will address the urgency to reforest public spaces and outreach for planting in public spaces, as well as to help address private property plantings.

The visionary plan will include public engagement over a three-month period that will include virtual meetings, polling, and questionnaires. A steering committee that is representative of the community will guide outreach and input. A priority will be placed on creating guiding principles that include equity, diversity, and resiliency for citizens and trees.

“Like any serious long-range plan, this effort is directed at making sure its choices align with the principles and goals of the community. Only once we’ve made a deep dive into what’s important to the people of Cedar Rapids, can we provide direction on questions like native vs. imported species, consistent vs. varied streetscapes, and where to plant first,” said Jeff Speck, city planner and author of “Walkable City.”

The ReLeaf Cedar Rapids program will include:

  • Goals for replanting public spaces including detailed plans for street right-of-ways and 38 public parks
  • Evaluation of pre-derecho street tree inventories and creation of a post-derecho public parks tree inventory and private institution tree inventory
  • Prioritization and phasing plans including neighborhoods, corridors, parks and other locations.
  • Outreach plans for public tree plantings, private yard trees, and private tree locations including institutions such as colleges, corporate campuses, and apartment complexes
  • General tree planting priorities, strategies, and best practices
  • A “green print” plan for leaders, volunteers, Trees Forever, and citizens to follow for multiple decades while rebuilding a healthy urban canopy
  • Expansion of the Growing Futures program, which employs teens to plant and care for trees
  • Recommendations regarding policy and advocacy strategies to further the implementation plan

 The Memorandum of Understanding outlines monthly payments in an amount not to exceed $500,000 to Trees Forever, which covers the cost of consultants, Speck and Confluence. The cost to implement the plan is $348,500, which includes expenses incurred by Trees Forever related to the planning project, tree adoption program expenses, a fundraising program, and overhead.

Trees Forever is a local, trusted, nonprofit organization with a history of tree advocacy for more than 30 years. It has partnered with the City of Cedar Rapids on multiple tree initiatives in the past. Trees Forever will leverage public and private dollars along with volunteers in collaboration with the City of Cedar Rapids.



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