Trees Coming to Mount Rainier in Fall and Spring

By the Mount Rainier Tree Commission

In November 2013 volunteers gathered on a chilly autumn morning to break up into small groups and survey the potential to plant trees along Mount Rainier city streets. The purpose was to determine open areas that could support a new tree - expected to arrive in the fall of 2014. After years of delay, the trees are set to arrive in the fall of 2021 and spring of 2022. 

Two hundred and sixty four new trees will replace the trees removed along Arundel Road to make way for the Allison Street Levee Improvement Project and to comply with US Army Corps of Engineers vegetation management requirements. Back in 2013 and 2014 citizens argued that the loss of tree canopy (~140 trees) will exacerbate heat, increase stormwater, and displace wildlife. The replacement trees will be provided by the County and were hard fought by past and current Tree Commissioners, Green Team members, citizen activists, City Council members and our former Mayor. City trees help improve air quality, damper noise pollution, moderate temperatures and help homeowners save energy by reducing cooling costs. In addition, trees and forests reduce stormwater runoff by capturing and storing rainfall in the canopy and releasing water into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration. 

The commitment by the County back in 2013 became reality when the County’s Department of the Environment contracted with the Low Impact Design Center to develop a plan for Mount Rainier. The plan took into consideration public green space, tree box size (the space located between the sidewalk and curb), utility issues, and safety. The Tree Commission provided considerable input into the tree species and on-site conditions. The Tree Commission advocated for two priorities, 1) canopy trees - meaning trees that will grow large and provide significant shade; and 2) tree species that are climate resilient and can withstand increasing heat. 

A majority of the trees, 75 percent, will be planted in city parks in the northside of town and in the Kaywood neighborhood. Around 25 percent, or 65 of the 264 trees, will be planted in front of single-family homes. Although not every tree box or open space will be filled in the city, the 264 new trees will be a game changer and serve as a reminder that citizen activists can make a difference.

If a tree will be planted in front of your house, you will receive a notice from the city and an option to opt-out. We hope you will adopt and appreciate the new tree and the beauty and value it will provide to our city. The County and its contractor will be responsible for maintaining the trees for two-years. This includes watering, disease inspection, pruning, and replacement if the plant dies within the first year. 

The Tree Commission will continue to work with residents to plant trees in vacant tree boxes. With over 900 tree boxes vacant, only a small percentage will be filled with the County levee replacement tree planting. 

Although the wheels of government take time and persistence, the city and its urban forest will benefit for generations to come.

Next Tree Commission meeting

Monday, March 28, 2022
7:30 - 9:00 pm
Meeting will be held remotely. Email trees@20712.org for a link to the Zoom meeting.

Our meetings are open to the public and all Mount Rainier residents are invited to attend. 

If you are planning to attend, we suggest emailing trees@20712.org ahead of time for any last-minute changes or cancellations.

Past Event: Fall 2021 Tree Planting - Calling All Tree Stewards

Would you like a new tree in front of your house? The Mount Rainier Tree Commission is seeking residents willing to help plant street trees in the "tree boxes", the area between the street and sidewalk or other public green space where there is a steward to adopt the tree. You will need to agree to help plant the tree, mulch it, and water it regularly throughout the next 2 years. We will have trees available for planting this October and November. Tree Commissioners will work with you on choosing a tree that suits you and your location, and provide planting assistance as needed. If interested, please email trees@20712.org and provide your name and address.

Deadline: September 29, 2021. 

Caring for Oaks and Other Large Trees

Learn about the threats large trees face in our region and the concrete steps you can take to help protect our community's trees in this article.

Past Event: Free Trees for Residential Property from Casey Trees - Due 7/1/21

Free trees available to beautify yards, enhance wildlife, store carbon, mitigate stormwater and create shade. 

Are you interested in a tree for your property that is free and planted for you? The Mount Rainier Tree Commission secured a limited number of trees for Mount Rainier residents through the Casey Trees and Pepco Right Tree, Right Place program. To request a tree, complete the following online form by July 1. Casey Trees will schedule a consultation to discuss the appropriate location and tree species and plant the tree for you during the fall of 2021. This is a first come first serve opportunity for Mount Rainier residents. 

Welcome new Tree Commissioner! 5/2021

Thank you Lester Scheuermann for joining us as our newest Tree Commissioner! Lester writes:

I am honored to be named as a member of the Mount Rainier Tree Commission. 

I respect trees as ecological gifts and hope to contribute to maintaining and enhancing the tree canopy of Mount Rainier. I attended a Tree Commission meeting as an interested resident, concerned about the growing threat of disease and infestation to the tree canopy, including our own White Oak. I was impressed and inspired by the knowledge, dedication and goals of the Commission to look more closely at its accomplishments over the past few years.  As an amateur woodworker/woodturner I am interested in wood and the trees that produce it.  My goal is to be an advocate for planting and preserving the trees of the city and enhancing our image as a Tree City.

Non-native vines

Learn about the dangers non-native vines pose to trees and how you can manage them in this Message article.

Trees in Winter

What do trees do to survive winter, and how can you help?  Find out in this article by Tree Commission member Zachary Hennessee.  

Exceptional Trees

In Mount Rainier, there's a process for designating a tree as "exceptional," which confers special recognition and protection on the tree.  You can learn more in this essay by Tree Commission member Brad Ball.  

Leave your leaves!

Did you know you can spend less time cleaning up your yard in fall AND help the environment? An essay by Mount Rainier Tree Commission member Barry Stahl on how keeping leaves in your yard can help your plants grow and benefit wildlife, while saving the city money and reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

Want to plant an oak in your yard? The tree commission can help!

Oak trees are the environmental and biodiversity champions of our region, providing exceptional wildlife habitat and other benefits. Sadly, many of our biggest, oldest oaks are reaching the end of their lives. To ensure that future generations of Mount Rainier residents enjoy the benefits of oaks, the tree commission is launching a program called "30 Oaks in 30 Days" to provide deeply discounted native oak trees to residents and assist with site preparation and planting.

Learn more: 30 Oaks in 30 Days

Questions? Email trees@20712.org 

Announcement: climate-resilient tree list

Anyone reading the news today knows that climate change is here, and it's only going to get more severe in decades to come. Trees can play a major role in blunting the impact of climate change by providing shade on hot days. But to get those resilience benefits, we need to plant trees today that will be resilient to the hotter temperatures and more extreme weather of the future. The tree commission has developed a list of trees that are appropriate to Mount Rainier and that we believe will be climate-resilient, based on the latest science. We hope this will be useful for city and county agencies, for residents planting trees on their own property, and for the wider DC-area urban forestry community.

Where do our trees come from - and how are we preparing for the future?

Tree commissioner Gabe Popkin has written two articles for the Mount Rainier Message on how the tree commission is working to keep our tree canopy strong and healthy today, and how we are setting the stage for a future with increasingly severe climate change.

To learn about our tree planting and care activities over the past few years, scroll to page 4 of the September newsletter:

To learn about how we are planting a resilient urban forest for the future, scroll to page 4 of the October newsletter: http://www.mountrainiermd.org/home/showdocument?id=1307

About the Mount Rainier Tree Commission

The Mount Rainier Tree Commission is a group of volunteers charged with protecting and enhancing the urban forest of Mount Rainier, Maryland. The Tree Commission advises city staff and council on decisions regarding planting and maintenance of city-owned trees. The Tree Commission has no authority over trees on private property, but commission members may advise property owners regarding tree planting, maintenance and removal, at the request of the property owner.

Current Tree Commission members are MaryLee Haughwout (chair), Barry Stahl, Brad Ball, Jackie Sabath, Rebecca Christopher and Zachary Hennessee. 

Other tree-related positions in Mount Rainier include: 
-- Rocio Latorre, Public Work: roadside tree care expert; city staff liaison to the Tree Commission
-- Bryan Knedler, City Council: roadside tree care expert; city council liaison to the Tree Commission

Please email trees@20712.org if you're interested in getting involved with the Tree Commission.

If you have a request regarding, email Rocio Latorre at rlatorre@mountrainiermd.org. You may copy the tree commission.

Past events: tree pruning workshops

In winter 2020 the tree commission hosted not one but two pruning workshops!

1. Tree Pruning Basics
Sunday, February 2, 2020, 1:00 -- 3:00 pm

2. How to Prune Crape Myrtles (Properly, not Murderously)
Saturday, February 29, 2020, 1:00 -- 3:00 pm

Tree commissioner Barry Stahl led both workshops.

Past event:
Native Garden Tour 
Mount Rainier, Brentwood and Hyattsville
Sunday, May 12, 2019, 10 am -- 1 pm

This was a self-guided tour featuring eight gardens in Mount Rainier, Brentwood and Hyattsville. CLICK HERE for more information and tour locations.

Past event: FREE tree pruning workshop

We learned the basic methods of structural tree pruning, which is essential to giving young trees good form and setting them on a path to a long, healthy life. The workshop was led by Barry Stahl, tree commissioner and former National Park Service horticulturalist. 

Past event: Tree planting, Sunday, April 8, 2018

The tree commission celebrated Arbor Day and planted 25 new trees in Mount Rainier! We greatly appreciate Maryland state forester Horace Henry coming by to present the Arbor Day proclamation and pose with us and this awesome flag. Tree City USA for 17 years and counting!

Arbor Day 2018
 Left to right: Bryan Reisz, Gabe Popkin, Horace Henry, Amy Dona, Barry Stahl.

NEWS: Spring 2017 tree planting

In celebration of Arbor Day, tree commissioners, volunteers, public works staff and council members planted 15 trees along streets and in parks. Please enjoy your new trees, and if you live near one, email trees@20712.org to find out about how you can help water them through the hot, dry summer!

Planting trees on Perry Street and in Spring Park. Photos by Gabriel Popkin

Past event: Tree pruning workshop

On January 28, 2017 the Tree Commission held a tree pruning workshop and approximately 10 people attended, including city council members, tree commissioners, residents, and public works staff. The workshop was led by master gardener and tree commissioner Barry Stahl. The training focused on the right time to prune trees and pruning techniques, and participants were able to practice on several Mount Rainier street trees.

Mount Rainier roadside tree care expert Jessica Love practices pruning, as tree commissioners Barry Stahl and Amy Dona, and councilmember Bryan Knedler, look on.

Announcement: Mount Rainier tree ordinance revised

On December 6, 2016, the Mount Rainier City Council adopted a revised Urban Forest Chapter of the City Code. A copy of the revised tree ordinance is available at https://sites.google.com/a/20712.org/trees/planning

NEWS: Trees Planted (May 2016)

On May 7, 2016, members of the Mount Rainier Tree Commission, city council member/roadside tree care expert Bryan Knedler and other community members planted two flowering dogwoods at Spring Park (33rd and Shepherd Streets) and tree redbuds in street tree boxes around town. This added to seven oaks and redbuds that were planted last weekend, and 25 more oaks, redbuds and dogwoods that will be planted soon. Enjoy your new arboreal neighbors!

Photos from this weekend's tree planting:

NEWS: Trees Planted (May 2015)

In May 2015, city council member and roadside tree care expert Bryan Knedler oversaw the planting of 63 trees in our city. After spending the day overseeing the planting, Knedler reports: “I am exhausted and didn’t even do any of the manual labor! You’ll see new trees around city hall, the Kaywood section of Varnum St, on Perry St at the Brentwood border, and other scattered spots. Most trees planted are native to the area."

Some things you can do on this site:

Click here to view an online list of all street trees in Mount Rainier. This inventory is continually being updated.

Click here to send us updated information about any tree in the city.

Click here to see information on a recent tour of Mount Rainier's trees.

Click here to download a tree permit application, required for removing, substantially pruning or taking any action that could impact a tree larger than 18 inches in diameter, even if it is on your property.

To submit a question or comment, email trees@20712.org. Please keep in mind that the Tree Commission is an all-volunteer group, and is not always able to respond to requests for immediate information or action. If a response to your query is needed, we will try to provide one in a timely manner.

Tree Planting Pics

Pruning and Maintenance Work