Georgetown Tree Panel Brings Together 5 Experts          

In an 18th century tavern in Georgetown, in a meeting room where the walls were covered by now-rarely-seen painted-on-site wall paper of silver trees, Trees for Georgetown held a tree forum — along with the City Tavern Club and the Georgetown Business Improvement District — fielding a panel of five local tree experts on May 15.

“Wow, this panel’s combined knowledge and enthusiasm is outstanding! Do you get together as a group to share your valuable expertise like this often?” asked a new Georgetown resident, who recently moved from an active community tree organization in Palo Alto, California.

The answer was “no.” For some, it was the first time they had met in person. But the some 70 tree lovers in the room all seemed to agree it was worthwhile.

“We depend on the help of this team of experts to help us fulfill our mission,” said TFG President Betsy Emes. Since its founding in 1989, Trees for Georgetown has planted more than 3,000 street trees (mainly in street boxes with regulated three-sided fencing), contracted watering services during drought periods and provided preventative maintenance for at-risk trees.

“We also inform neighbors on how to care for these trees and guide them regarding city regulations. Many residents do not know that they are responsible for the guardianship of the trees in front of their property,” according to Emes.

“D.C. is probably one of the five top cities in the country that supports such an active and professional urban forest division,” said Matt Lehtonen, an Urban Forrester at the D.C. Department of Transportation.  The division “stewards” over 300 varieties, over 170,000  trees in public areas throughout DC with a mission to keep this resource healthy, safe and growing.

“We are all trying to educate ourselves and Georgetowners about how to maintain their remarkable canopy of trees. One way is to distinguish between street side trees and trees in parks,” said Lehtonen. “Home owners are responsible for watering the street trees in front of their homes, but not for planting or trimming them.  That’s the city’s job in collaboration with expert partners. Call 311.”

The park trees are planted and maintained by a variety of cooperative agreements between private companies, city agencies, as well as the National Park Service in several Georgetown parks like Georgetown Waterfront, Rose and Dumbarton Oaks Parks.

“Our longtime go-to faithful expert is Keith Pitchford, owner and founder of Tree Mattrix.” said Emes giving him a big hug.

“We have a bright future with these experts, all relatively young and data knowledgeable,” added well-known Georgetowner and architect Frank Randolph.

Panelists included Lethonen, Pitchford, Jake Hendee, Smithsonian Institution Master Arborist, and Robert Shaut, Casey Trees Director of Tree Operations. The panel was moderated by Matt Millage, Director of Public Space Operations of the Georgetown Business Improvement District, a cosponsor of the tree forum, and hosted by the City Tavern Club at 3206 M St. NW.



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