Developed Land Forestry for Urban Tree Canopy


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Project CommuniTree


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The Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia is developing faster than any other region of WV with potential negative impacts to air & water quality.  Protecting and expanding tree canopy will be positive influences.  CI is a driving force in partnerships between government agencies, private organizations, local governments, schools, and volunteers that will emphasize UTC and foster land management strategies at county and local levels.  UTC strategies involve setting tree canopy cover goals, determining high priority planting areas, and organizing tree planting initiatives for the benefit of the public.


Urban Tree Canopy Assessment & Enhance (UTC A&E)



Using statistical sampling and aerial imagery, Cacapon Institute, the WV Division of Forestry, and the USDA Forest Service’s analysts at University of Vermont are determining the extent of the existing tree canopy in the . In addition to UTC we are assessing the impervious surfaces (surfaces that water cannot pass through, such as buildings, roads, and pavement) along with bare soil & open green space (grassy areas that might benefit from trees).  Based on the sampling, we are identifying the locations that would benefit the most from expanded tree canopy and targeting those areas for tree plantings.


Municipalities are encouraged to declare a UTC goal and develop plans for increasing tree canopy and care for existing trees. Towns are encouraged to set land aside as woodlots to enhance wildlife habitat.  We need to adopt best management practices for public and private lands.



One way we will assist communities and volunteers is through Project CommuniTree.  CommuniTree promotes urban tree planting and public education through volunteerism on a regional scale by providing important trainings.  CommuniTree focuses on urban tree plantings within small communities by teaching proper tree selection, planting placement, and long term care and maintenance.  It promotes watershed awareness—awareness of the land areas that drains into our rivers and streams.   CommuniTree reduces stormwater runoff pollution by planting trees in urban/suburban areas and in riparian zones (the land just along the riverside).  This improves wildlife habitat, increases green space and prevents soil erosion. Volunteer tree planting projects are a major component in the process of communities making priority decisions.  CommuniTree provides a strong educational message so citizens know to plant the right tree in the right place for the right reason.

1.   Municipalities, Counties:  Using statistical sampling and aerial imagery CI will determine the existing tree canopy across the Potomac Basin.  CI will work with the University of Vermont to map the area of impervious surface, open green space, bare soil, water, buildings, roads and other paved surfaces for the Opequon Creek watershed (i.e. Berkeley & Jefferson Counties).  Based on the sampling & mapping CI will identify the towns that would benefit the most from expanded tree canopy and target them for assistance.  Municipalities will be encouraged to declare a UTC goal and develop plans for increasing tree canopy and care for existing trees (CI worked with Jefferson County to complete a UTC Plan in 2011).

        Read Jefferson County’s UTC Plan & Goal. (587KB PDF)

        Visit University of Vermont’s Land Cover Assessment Map of Jefferson County

  1. Schools:  CI is completing a land cover assessment of the >80 public schools in the eight counties of the WV Potomac Basin for the WV Chesapeake Bay Tributary Team.  CI will develop methods to grade schools’ tree canopy coverage and foster school pride in their tree care management.  Schools will be encouraged to use trees to reduce HVAC energy consumption, improve local air quality, increase shade, and reduce stormwater pollution runoff.  Through student-lead PSAs and outreach schools will exemplify the social & ecological benefits of trees. 

  2. WV Project CommuniTree:  CommuniTree is a cooperative effort of WV Conservation Agency and WV Dept. of Forestry and CI.  We will promote urban tree planting and public education through volunteerism and trainings on proper tree selection, care & maintenance.  CommuniTree promotes awareness of watershed and riparian area needs including erosion control, cooling and shading streams, and buffer zone planting to protect wildlife habitat.  We will development a Tree Steward Certification, advise existing tree boards, foster new advocacy groups, and promote investment in tree care & planting in parks and public spaces.  Read More on CTree.

  3. WV Division of Highways:  CI will consult with the WV DOH on right-of-ways (ROW) land management techniques to encourage tree planting and reforestation.  DOH will develop UTC goals for priority interstate corridors and incorporate tree cover into their stormwater runoff pollution reduction commitments.  CommuniTree will work with DOH to recruit and develop volunteers to adopt highway segments for reforestation and tree management.  Volunteers will be trained to evaluate forest health risks associated with highway rights-of-way such as critical safety setbacks, the importance of identifying and controlling invasive species, and the 3-R Rule as it relates to DOH ROW - ‘right tree, right place, and for the right reason’.

We are grateful for the financial support of the federal government for the above forestry projects, without which none of this work would be possible:
bulletThe 2012 round of CommuniTree grants is made possible by federal funding from the USDA Forest Service.  
bulletJefferson County’s UTC Goal & Plan was made possible in part by federal funding through the Chesapeake Bay Program in support of West Virginia's efforts to restore local waters and the Chesapeake Bay.  
bulletCI’s UTC Assessment & Enhancement program is made possible by grants from the USDA Forest Service and Chesapeake Bay Program funding in support of West Virginia's efforts to restore local waters and the Chesapeake Bay. 




Cacapon Institute - From the Cacapon to the Potomac to the Chesapeake Bay, we protect rivers and watersheds using science and education.

Cacapon Institute
#10 Rock Ford Road
Great Cacapon, WV 25422
304-258-8013 (tele)

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Frank Rodgers,  Executive Director

Website  made possible by funding from The Norcross Wildlife Foundation,  the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Virginia Environmental Endowment, NOAA-BWET, USEPA, The MARPAT Foundation, and our generous members.