TOWSON, MD—Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski and Council Chair Julian Jones on Thursday celebrated Earth Week by announcing an expansion of Operation ReTree Baltimore County, a new equity-based tree planting initiative that is expanding severely diminished tree canopies in highly populated, lower-income neighborhoods. Surrounded by community members and officials, Olszewski and Jones planted one of 45 native trees that are being installed at Northwest Crossing Apartment Homes, a Morgan Properties community in Randallstown.
“Trees are good for all of us: they improve air quality, support health, and deliver critical long-term benefits to our neighborhoods,” said County Executive Olszewski. “Operation ReTree will facilitate the planting of more than 450 urban trees this spring alone, further supporting our commitment to making Baltimore County greener, healthier, and more sustainable.”
In this second season for the program, Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability (EPS) will plant more than 450 native trees at single family and apartment homes in eligible single-family and multi-family communities in Dundalk, Essex, Owings Mills and Randallstown. Olszewski launched Operation ReTree Baltimore County last fall in the Dundalk community of West Inverness, where the County planted some 300 trees in residential yards and public spaces.
“An investment in trees is an investment in our future,” said Baltimore County Council Chairman Julian Jones. “The residents of the Operation ReTree communities will benefit from the beauty, shade, and fresher air the trees provide. Our environment will benefit in the immediate and long terms. We are proud to be part of this ambitious and exciting program.”
The program has received enthusiastic support from residents and property owners in these communities, with commitments for planting:
- 130 at Morningside Apartments & Townhomes (Owings Mills)
- 123 in Eastfield-Stanbrook (Dundalk)
- 77 in Stansbury Park (Dundalk)
- 45 at Northwest Crossing Apartments (Randallstown)
- 42 in Fox Ridge Manor (Essex)
- 37 in addition to the 300 trees already planted in West Inverness (Dundalk)
“Morgan Properties is thrilled that two of our local communities will benefit from this initial phase of Baltimore County’s Operation ReTree initiative,” said Brian Turner, Area Vice President of Facility Operations at Morgan Properties. “Efforts like these further support our mission to provide a better, greener living experience for all of our residents while also contributing to a healthier and safer planet for all. We look forward to a long-standing partnership with Baltimore County that will result in many more trees being planted across our Morgan Properties’ communities in the future.”
Baltimore County EPS will designate additional neighborhoods around Baltimore County for similar hyper-local planting efforts this fall and in future years. Operation ReTree Baltimore County is funded through a combination of sources including $400,000 in Baltimore County capital funds and $1.5 million through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 federal stimulus program (ARPA). The County has applied for additional support from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, which is administering the State of Maryland’s strategy to plant five million trees by 2030 in accordance with the 2021 Tree Solutions Act.
Operation ReTree targets high density, lower-income neighborhoods
Operation ReTree was developed as a systematic approach to ensure that trees are planted in densely populated communities with lower average incomes and insufficient tree canopy. These areas tend to be more challenging and costly because they have less land available for planting due to tightly condensed roads and utilities – both above and below ground. The program uses GIS mapping to analyze tree canopy and Census data to strategically channel needed public investment to disadvantaged communities. The County works to maximize community buy-in and quickly achieve substantial gains by concentrating resources into hyper-local geographic areas, prioritizing neighborhoods with the lowest tree canopy and the highest need for public investment in trees.
The new program establishes tree equity priority scores, which rank 2020 Census block groups to identify areas where the most people with limited resources can benefit from increased tree canopy near their homes.
Tree giveaway in honor of 150th Arbor Day
County Executive Olszewski also announced that the County is offering free native trees to residents to mark the 150th anniversary of the Arbor Day holiday.
The County’s Arbor Day weekend giveaway is open to Baltimore County residents only, and each resident may order up to three trees, from among seven native tree species. Trees must be preordered through the County website. Native trees are well suited to local soil types, require less watering than non-native trees and are naturally resistant to pests and diseases common to our area. Residents are encouraged to order early, as the 600 trees are expected to go quickly.
Baltimore County EPS is hosting curbside tree pickups on Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30 at the Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park, located at 1114 Shawan Road in Cockeysville, at pre-scheduled times.
County tree goal is 50 percent Countywide and 40 percent inside URDL
Since 2000, Baltimore County has reforested more than 1,000 acres in support of the County’s reforestation requirements under the Forest Conservation Act, tree canopy goals and municipal stormwater permit. For the past 19 years, Baltimore County has been recognized as a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.
The County’s goal is to achieve and maintain a 50 percent tree canopy Countywide and within the three drinking water reservoirs by the year 2025. Additionally, the County is striving to achieve and maintain 40 percent tree coverage within the more populated areas inside the Urban Rural Demarcation Line (URDL) and for each of the Census Designated Places (CDPs).