Sustain B'more
October 2020 | Issue 5
Urban Trees and Our Partners
Dear Followers,

As the air cools and fall colors emerge, we are reminded of the myriad benefits that accompany a robust tree canopy in the city. Blue Water Baltimore, Baltimore Tree Trust, and Flowering Tree Trails are just a few of the partners that are critical in helping TreeBaltimore (under the Forestry Division of the City's Recreation & Parks Department) preserve and grow Baltimore's canopy. These organizations offer tree care and stewardship training programs, host tree giveaways, and hold community tree plantings, just to name a few. In collaboration with our Office, these partners recently helped us update our Forest and Tree Conservation regulations to minimize tree loss in the city. This all supports the City's goal of achieving 40% tree canopy coverage by 2037 (we are currently at 28%). These efforts also remind us that structural racism and lack of investment in certain neighborhoods have meant a lower canopy rate (and higher summer temperatures). There is much work to be done. Next time you are on a walk around your neighborhood, take an extra moment to look up and appreciate the tree canopy above you.

On another note -- fall is also a time to exercise our civic responsibilities! If you haven't already, please be sure to VOTE! In addition to local and national races, there are four questions (Questions A-D) on our 2020 ballot that, if voted FOR, would authorize the City to borrow up to $160 million in General Obligation (GO) bonds to finance important public projects. We thank you in advance for your support of these projects.

Warm Wishes and Happy Halloween,
BoS Staff
Community Spotlight
The Italian Cultural Center's impressive food distribution efforts during the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. Photo c/o Monica Lapenta.
Monica Lapenta -- Italian Cultural Center of Maryland
Next up on #EveryStoryCounts -- Monica Lapenta! Monica is the President of the Italian Cultural Center of Maryland, which pioneered the Be a Chef for a Day (BACFAD) program to teach people of all age how to cook healthy meals and create a food budget. At the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Baltimore, Monica and the BACFAD team had to decide if they were up to the challenge of opening up their community kitchen to deal with the immediate needs of families in their community. Needless to say, they did it, and are now serving more than 750 hot, fresh-cooked dinners to people in need every day as well as hundreds of "Grab & Go" lunches, working with volunteers to make deliveries to food-insecure individuals all across the city. Monica mentioned, "We are prepared to continue to respond to this emergency situation, and now we know that we have the capabilities to meet the task for as long as necessary."
You don’t have to be a climate scientist or city planner to help improve the sustainability and resilience of Baltimore. Everyone has a story to tell about making Baltimore a stronger, fairer, and safer place for all of us. We’ve been collecting stories on our website, and we invite you to share yours with us by posting on social media with the hashtag #EveryStoryCounts and/or by emailing us.
Office Happenings
Forest & Tree Conservation Regulation Updates
A Forest and Tree Conservation Bill (City Council Bill 20-0546 Natural Resources) was recently signed into law to update the city’s Forest Conservation code and manual, thanks to the hard work of our office and partners. This update was necessary to comply with state law, codify existing policies, and to coordinate with newer city environmental regulations -- and to help reduce tree loss in Baltimore City!

Notable updates include:
  • Reduced amount of land disturbance that triggers a review from 20,000 sq ft to 5,000 sq ft
  • Increasing the fee in lieu rate for reforestation or afforestation from $400 per tree to $600 per tree and specimen tree mitigation from $200 per inch to $300 per inch
  • Allowing the creation and use of forest mitigation banks

The effective date for these updates is December 28, 2020. More information about the forest conservation program and code/manual updates can be found here. A special shoutout to Environmental Planner Amy Gilder-Busatti for spearheading this update.
One of the many impressive trees that can be seen in Druid Hill Park. Photo by Anne Draddy, BoS Staff.
City's First Nuisance Flood Plan Adopted
The very first Baltimore City Nuisance Flood Plan (NFP) was approved by the Baltimore City Planning Commission on October 1st! Many thanks to all who reviewed our draft plan and provided comments -- your input was very important to the successful completion of our plan. You might like to check out the NFP Storymap, a fun and interactive summary of the plan. Special shoutout to Bruna Attila, our Coastal Resources Planner, for leading the charge on the plan update and Doug Summers, our awesome intern, for his support.

Nuisance flooding, or high-tide flooding, is a continual issue in Baltimore that is being exacerbated by sea level rise from climate change. The City of Baltimore assessed its waterfront to identify areas that are prone to nuisance flooding to comply to State legislation and increase urban resiliency. The intention of the NFP is to map, track and catalog nuisance flooding that happens from 2020 until 2025 and develop preventative strategies.
Front cover of the new 2020 Nuisance Flood Plan.
Sustainability Highlights
Rendering from Waterfront Partnership.
New Harbor Heartbeat Report Card
On September 23rd, the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore released the 2020 Harbor Heartbeat Report CardThis report documents the progress made over the past 10 years towards improving water quality in our watersheds and harbor, with the overarching goal of achieving fishable and swimmable water quality. The report shows that many of the areas studied have seen improvements in water quality over the last decade. Looking forward, the Waterfront Partnership wants to continue to work toward increased safe recreational access to the water, including envisioning new ways to access and experience Baltimore's Harbor and surrounding waterways.
Photo from featured article.
Styrofoam Ban Now Effective
On October 1st, Maryland became the first state to ban expanded polystyrene foam, or Styrofoam, food and beverage packaging. You may have noticed that Styrofoam containers in Baltimore have already decreased in use over the past year -- that's because Baltimore City's own ban went into effect one year ago. There is a growing awareness that Styrofoam is harmful to both our environment and public health, and Baltimore and the State of Maryland are setting an impressive precedent for other states and jurisdictions to follow. That should give you a reason to feel some local pride!
What We Are Reading
Racial Inequity and Lack of Tree Canopy
An editorial in the Baltimore Sun's September 4th issue highlighted the correlation between racial inequity and reduced tree canopy. It pointed out that a lack of tree canopy in cities creates a stronger urban heat island effect, which can increase health disparities for already vulnerable populations. For low-income communities with a limited access to adequate cooling or air conditioning, a lack of tree canopy can significantly raise temperatures outside and inside residents' homes. This 2019 article on extreme heat by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism also digs into the dynamics of this inequity in Baltimore. Another example is a January 2020 study by the USDA Forest Service's Northern Research Station in Baltimore County that looked at "Residential Housing Segregation and Tree Canopy in 37 U.S. Cities." The study showed that residential areas that had been impacted the nation's historic redlining policies were more likely to have a low tree canopy rate.

Working with residents in these neighborhoods to help increase their neighborhood's tree canopy is an important step to dismantling systemic racism. With fall and spring being ideal times to plant trees, volunteering with the Baltimore Tree Trust, Bluewater Baltimore, or TreeBaltimore can be a great way to contribute to the Trillion Trees Initiative and to a better city.
Students and volunteers at a Baltimore City School plant a tree together. Photo c/o Carrie Stockwell.
Turtle Tip of the Month
Did you know there is a map of ALL of the city's trees?
The TreeBaltimore program, which is housed in the Forestry Division of Rec & Parks, created a mapped inventory of all of the city's trees (meaning ones not located on private property)! The map can be viewed here. TreeBaltimore updates it regularly based on new information they receive.

Also -- if you ever plant a tree, you can register it to be added to the inventory here. How cool is that!
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Our Mission

The Office of Sustainability develops and advocates for programs and policies that improve Baltimore's long-term environmental, social, and economic viability.
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417 E Fayette St, 8th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202

Editor-in-Chief: Aubrey Germ, Climate and Resilience Planner