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City applying for tree grant

July 12, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Hagerstown officials will apply for a $35,000 state grant to buy about 250 trees in an effort to make the city more green.

City Planning Director Kathleen Maher on Tuesday told the City Council that the trees would be part of a plan to increase the city's "urban tree canopy cover" from 21 percent to 30 percent by 2050.

Maher said the canopy cover percentage is determined by satellite imagery.

At 21 percent, Hagerstown ranks well below the state average of 35 percent, Maher said.

The city won't come close to reaching its 30 percent goal even if the $35,000 grant is approved, Maher said. As a result, city officials will initiate a communitywide campaign to educate the public about the importance of planting trees.

In addition to absorbing carbon dioxide, trees improve water quality by reducing storm-water runoff and provide shade to homes, reducing energy bills, Maher said.

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Councilman Martin Brubaker suggested setting staged goals because shooting for 2050 might not provide sufficient incentive.

"I just don't think that's going to motivate anyone," he said.

Maher said she didn't know how many trees would need to be planted to increase the canopy cover from 21 percent to 30 percent.

She told council members that she would work on finding the figure and tell them at a later date.

Maher said the city has to apply by July 17 for the grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust's Urban Greening Initiative Grant Program.

If the city receives the grant, the trees could be planted as early as this fall, Maher said.

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