VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Dozens of volunteers were working hard Saturday morning to beautify the Ocean Lakes neighborhood in Virginia Beach.
“Trees are about the most important thing you can do for climate change, sea-level rise, flooding issues,” said Karen Forget with Lynnhaven River Now.
Almost 400 trees will be planted in the neighborhood. We asked Forget just how important trees are to low lying neighborhoods.
“Trees store a lot of water they keep the soil less compacted so the water can soak into the ground and they actually take up a lot of water and store the water in the body of the tree,” said Forget.
The cost to plan and plant the trees cost around $25,000.
“Funding came from the Virginia Department of Forestry to purchase all the trees for the supplies and that was matched with funding from our own Kenneth Greif Tree Fund and a generous donation from the Malben Family Foundation,” she said.
And what kind of trees could residents see in their neighborhood?
“A lot are Cedars or Wax Myrtles. We use a lot of local species to prevent invasive species and we select trees based on their water resistance,” said volunteer Daniel Martin.
Forget says they also will give out 100 additional trees for residents to plant in their own yards.
Brian Van Eerden, director of the Virginia Pinelands program of the Nature Conservancy, manages the organization’s forest management projects in southeastern Virginia. He also is co-author of the Virginia Beach study Quantifying the Flood Reduction Potential of Urban Forests.
Van Eerden said the Ocean Lakes project can be an example for future tree planting projects in Virginia Beach that could “help improve water quality as well as enhance opportunities to address storm water management and recurrent flooding issues associated with sea live rise in Virginia Beach.”
Funding for the tree planting and giveaway project was provided by a grant from the Virginia Department of Forestry’s Trees for Clean Water Program and from Lynnhaven River Now’s new Kenneth Greif Tree Fund, Forget said. Lynnhaven River NOW plans to build its new tree fund with donations to continue to restore trees to the Virginia Beach landscape to help combat sea level rise, she added.
Ocean Lakes is in the Back Bay watershed and like many of our neighborhoods is vulnerable to flooding. We hope our project can be a model for future tree plantings in Virginia Beach to help with flooding issues.
The Kenneth Greif Tree Fund was established by Andrew and Barbara Fine who received a bequest of $5,000 from an old friend, Kenneth Greif, who passed away in Baltimore, Maryland last year. The Fines donated the money to Lynnhaven River NOW to establish a tree fund in memory of their friend to support tree planting in the City.
The Kenneth Greif Tree Fund recently received a donation of $10,000 from the Malbon Family Fund through the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, Forget said. The donation will enable Lynnhaven River NOW to restore native trees to many more neighborhoods like Ocean Lakes that were built on farmland.
We are grateful to the Fines and the Malbon Family Fund for these donations.
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