Q. How does the City of Plano manage and preserve its natural resources in unique or sensitive areas (nature preserves, wetlands, riverbanks, etc.)?
A. The management and preservation of our natural resources starts with the care of our trees. Not many people know this, but the City of Plano is responsible for the management of more than 28,000 public trees. These trees are not only home to about 60 different types of wildlife species, but they are an important resource for Plano’s human residents as well. Trees help ensure that our city’s air and water quality is clean. They also provide energy savings and reduce stormwater overflows. They are an important part of our city’s infrastructure.
To learn more about our inventory, the Parks and Recreation Department in 2014 conducted an iTree Eco study using 225 (1/10 acre) plots around the City to determine specific details regarding Plano’s tree canopy. This included species diversity, overall health of our urban forest and percentage of impervious surfaces. Plots were randomly placed in every major land type including natural areas, parks, streets and residential and commercial areas.
In 2016, we completed an Urban Tree Canopy assessment, which identified the exact tree canopy cover versus impervious surface percentages to determine available tree planting areas as part of our Urban Forest Master Plan. By the way, Plano is only the second City in Texas to have completed an Urban Forest Master Plan. You can view it here.
Based on these two assessments, we discovered the tree canopy represents 21 percent of the city’s land area, versus the 48 percent of impervious surfaces. The 2014 and 2016 assessments, plus the Urban Forest Master Plan, were completed to determine benchmark values and develop goals to improve tree health and safety, outreach, and maintenance/canopy goals, thereby improving the quality of life for our residents.
Trees are a major investment for our community. In fact, the amount of carbon dioxide Plano’s public and private trees can store equates to $44 million, which would have been spent in order to keep this greenhouse gas out of our air. In addition, the annual avoided stormwater runoff that these trees provide was valued at $8.6 million and the total annual benefits of Plano’s urban forest was $11.5 million.
Our trees can be a cost-effective replacement to many man-made solutions. This is commonly referred to as Green Infrastructure, which provides the ingredients for solving urban and climatic challenges by building with nature instead of removing it.
Our relationship with our trees is a mutually beneficial one, but we have to be willing to give them the love and care they deserve in order to receive the best from them. You can show your appreciation at our annual Arbor Day ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. at the Oak Point Park Nature & Retreat Center (5901 Los Rios Blvd.). Join Parks and Recreation staff as well as city leaders, the Texas Trees Foundation, Smokey Bear, and others as we recognize our 29th year as a Tree City USA and renew our commitment of stewardship for Plano’s trees!