Cooling a Heat Island

With a recent planting of seven trees in the 10th and Page neighborhood, the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards kicked off a new effort to increase the tree canopy and combat our city’s heat island problem. Urban heat islands are places where roofs, roads and other structures absorb and re-emit heat from the sun, raising temperatures even at nighttime. Trees, by providing shade and cooling water vapor, help mitigate the heat island effect.

Recent studies have revealed that several parts of the city have less than 15-20% tree canopy, which makes them significantly hotter than surrounding neighborhoods that have more trees. Among them is the 10th and Page neighborhood between West Main Street and Preston Avenue.

Tree Steward volunteers took part in the first planting on November 14. Like our past plantings in the Belmont neighborhood, this effort is providing trees for residential yards, since there is limited public space where trees can be added. Residents in the 10th and Page area are excited to receive the new trees and are spreading the word to their neighbors that CATS is making trees available for the asking, thanks to generous support from the Caplin Foundation, supplemented by our own funds.

Once a resident agrees to receive a tree, the utilities are marked, a proper hole is dug, and the tree stewards gather with the resident and family to plant the tree. A mini demonstration in each planting will make a neighborhood of tree planters. Tree recipients receive a rain gauge to help them decide when their tree needs water and a watering bucket if they lack a hose. In the first planting, free pumpkins from the Ivy Corner Garden Center were used to provide temporary labels for the new trees, which include a Northern Red Oak, a “Princeton” American Elm, a Red Sunset Maple and a Serviceberry.

After several more plantings, the area now has 11 new trees. The Tree Stewards plan to provide up to 10 more trees for the neighborhood and will then roll into a group tree planting effort with the Charlottesville Tree Commission.