Fort Worth wants to know more about your relationship with trees – and how city officials should move forward with preserving them.
In November, the city and the Texas Trees Foundation began a survey to learn more about what residents want from Fort Worth’s first-ever urban forestry master plan. So far, the survey has received more than 900 responses, according to Kristy Offenburger, a Texas Trees Foundation spokesperson.
Using $50,000 from the city’s tree fund and at least $250,000 from private donors, the Texas Trees Foundation is expected to develop recommendations that will help increase Fort Worth’s tree canopy cover from 19% to 30% of the city. The plan, originally announced in May, will include an analysis of issues like air quality, urban heat and current ordinances aimed at protecting trees.
“Everyone gets to present their shared vision of what urban forests should look like in the city, and then create those public and private partnerships to ensure the health and sustainability of urban forestry within your city,” said Rachel McGregor, an urban forestry manager for the Texas Trees Foundation, which has helped develop a similar plan in Dallas.
More information on urban forestry plan
More information on the urban forestry master plan can be found here.
Residents can take the survey through the end of February 2023. Access it here.
Beyond community feedback, the survey is designed to inform residents about the importance of trees in the urban environment, Offenburger said. Residents will have until the end of February to offer their thoughts on which areas of Fort Worth should be prioritized for tree planting and how the city should use its resources to improve the health of its urban forest.
Survey results will help ensure that the city’s available funding and staff are allocated in a way that reflects community priorities, Offenburger said.
“We recognize that the city has limited resources to provide all of the services required for a fast-growing city,” she said in a statement. “The survey results will help with prioritizing how and where available funds are spent.”
City and foundation staff are also planning to engage residents and affected communities through other events next year. Two virtual community workshops about the plan are scheduled for Jan. 12 and Feb. 15. Everyone is welcome but should RSVP in advance.
Foundation staff are also planning virtual focus group meetings with different interest groups, including people concerned with transportation, development, environmental, real estate, watershed management and green industry issues. Those meetings will be promoted through local industry associations and other organizations, Offenburger said.
“We want to ensure we receive input from a diverse group of backgrounds and perspectives,” she said.
Additional community events are in the work for January and early February prior to the closing of the survey, Offenburger added.
People who were involved in writing Fort Worth’s original urban forestry ordinance and opening Fort Worth’s tree farm are also part of the planning process, she said. The city has released three promotional videos featuring former city forester Harold Pitchford as well as Mayor Mattie Parker and neighborhood tree planting program supervisor Hannah Johnson.
Developers and homeowners in areas where large portions of trees were clear-cut have already expressed their desire to participate in the master plan process. Others have voiced concerns about replacing trees in public parks that have died in the freezes during the past two years, according to previous Fort Worth Report coverage.
During her promotional video, Parker pointed to Fort Worth’s growth as a reason to protect the city’s history and heritage, especially the beauty along the Trinity River. The city’s tree landscape is just as important as the next big development in the community, she said.
“My youngest is 6 years old,” Parker said. “I want him to be proud of the city that we’re protecting for future generations. You can’t do that without a master plan that really honors and respects what urban forestry really looks like in the city of Fort Worth.”
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This article has been corrected to reflect that the Texas Trees Foundation did not develop an urban forestry master plan in Denton, as it has in Dallas and now Fort Worth.