Written by Pearl Morosky, 2020 Youth Forestry Council Member
All of Austin’s trees need care and attention to grow and flourish, but with 33 million trees in the city, it takes a community to give every tree the care it needs. To help solve this problem, various community groups, many of which rely heavily on volunteers, have come together to take care of Austin’s trees. One of the biggest groups is the Austin Parks Foundation (APF). This local Austin non-profit association provides resources, programs and funding for our parks, with support from the city.
The City of Austin Urban Forest Program provides funding to the APF through the Urban forest grant, which supports different community groups and organizations in projects that support and develop our urban forest. An important part of the city’s efforts to maintain and develop our urban forest is supporting the Austin Parks Foundation, which in turn helps ensure Austin’s trees receive the care they need.
In 2019, the Urban Forest Grant gave just over $ 100,000 to the APF to assist in its efforts to protect the urban forest. In comparison, the calculated value of all volunteer time granted through the APF in 2019 is over $ 500,000! With financial support from the Urban Forest Grant, in 2020, despite COVID-19 restrictions, the APF completed 112 tree-related projects across the city. The APF is the parent organization of 120 Adopt-A-Park groups, which gives them valuable connections with enthusiastic volunteers across town. By partnering with the APF, the City is able to maximize the value of the money invested to support our urban forest.
The map below shows all the projects carried out by the APF with the support of the 2018-2020 urban forest grant.
One of the most important ways for the city to support the Austin Parks Foundation is to help facilitate This is My Park day, during which a large number of tree care projects are carried out. Thanks to the support of the City, the APF provides tools, mulch and coordination of volunteers for this six-monthly day of service. This support helps to maximize the value of the time given by the more than 3,000 volunteers on This is My Park Day.
Many of the projects carried out by the City and the APF, on the occasion of C’est mon parc and beyond, are linked to tree mulching. Although mulching may seem trivial, it can be very helpful in caring for trees.
- releases nutrients into the soil by decomposition
- protects the soil from erosion
- minimizes soil moisture loss
- regulates the temperature
The last three are especially important in the Austin climate, as hot weather can dry out the soil and negatively affect tree roots. The APF has completed mulching, with the support of the Urban Forest Grant, all over Austin, in parks from Mayfield to Wells Branch to Dittmar. The Recycling and Reuse Drop-off Center provides free mulch (made from salvaged garden debris) to Austinites interested in caring for the trees on their property!
The Urban Forest Grant also provides funds for larger scale park renovations to promote the cultivation and maintenance of urban forest in that park. For example, when North Oaks Park was renovated in 2019 to include updated play structures, the Urban Forest Grant provided $ 10,000 for tree planting. Such support allows parks to take care of and cultivate our urban forest during renovation.
All Austinites can be involved in preserving our urban forest! One of the most convenient ways to do this is to get involved in a park adoption with the Austin Parks Foundation. Park adopters help maintain and maintain their neighborhood parks and organize This is My Park Day. For more information on adoptable parks, or to join an existing group, click visit the Adopt-A-Park Wepage. The Austin Parks Foundation also offers many volunteer opportunities for individuals and families, many of which involve urban forest. Volunteers are an invaluable resource in caring for our urban forest and allow the Austin Urban Forest to continue to thrive!
This blog post was written as part of a 2020 Youth Forestry Council project. You can read more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.