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April 26 2014 Tree Tour

posted Jun 6, 2016, 4:16 PM by Gabriel Popkin   [ updated Jun 6, 2016, 4:16 PM ]

While we may rarely think about the urban forest that surrounds us, it is one of our city’s major assets. Our trees shade us in the summer, provide habitat for birds and other wildlife, contribute to neighborhood property values and reduce flooding during storms. We are lucky to live in a city with such a well-developed canopy that includes some truly spectacular old trees.

We are also lucky to have a dedicated and knowledgeable roadside tree expert in Bryan Knedler. On April 26, a beautiful Saturday earlier this spring, around 20 people joined Bryan (also a former mayor of the city) and the Mount Rainier Tree Commission for a two-hour walking tour to learn about some of the city’s past, present and future trees.

We began in Spring Park at the corner of Shepherd and 33rd Streets, the site of the natural spring that provided water for the area’s first residents. The park was re-landscaped in 1998 by a former Tree Commissioner and other volunteers, who planted native serviceberries. The adjacent yard is home to the city’s largest eastern hemlock tree, a species that is struggling in this part of the world due to both climate change and an invasive pest. (This particular hemlock, however, appears healthy.)

We headed west and uphill on Shepherd Street, which used to be called Ash Street and, naturally, was once lined with ash trees. The ash has been decimated in recent decades by an insect called the emerald ash borer, and is no longer planted. At Shepherd and 31st Streets, we reached the high point in town, where a mansion owned by the Clemson family stood in the mid-1800s. At that time, the only trees in present-day Mount Rainier probably stood near this point; some of these trees, mostly white oaks, remain. Due to their age, some of these majestic oaks will probably need to come down in coming years, but others could continue growing for decades.

At 29th Street we took a small detour to see the remains of an American elm, many of which (including this one) have succumbed to Dutch elm disease. This elm had come down just a week before the tour. After the tree came down, its trunk turned out to be hollow on the inside.

Our route took us west to 28th Street, south to Bunker Hill Rd, and back toward 33rd Street. As we walked, we passed a number of young street trees that Bryan had recently planted with grant money made available through a Prince George’s County program. Some are well on their way to adulthood; others are just a year or two old. Bryan pointed out that our streets trees do remarkably well, given the conditions we ask them to grow in: small tree boxes, disturbed soil and long, hot summers with little rain. The most precarious time for a street tree is during its first year. Bryan puts plastic rings around the bases of new trees to protect them from string trimmers, and occasionally places fences around particularly vulnerable trees. He also makes sure the city or a nearby resident waters new trees during the hot, dry summer months. After a year or two, most trees can make it on their own. Tree Commissioner Steve McKindley-Ward prunes young street trees to ensure they grow straight and tall.

On 32nd Street we took another small detour to visit a small arboretum just south of Mount Rainier Elementary School. The arboretum was planted in the late 1990s and still hosts several nice trees, including one of the city’s few sycamore. Reviving and maintaining the arboretum is one of a number of opportunities that exist for interested citizens to get involved with Mount Rainier’s trees. We ended the tour at the gazebo at 33rd and Bunker Hill.

One lesson from the tour is that the city’s tree canopy is a work in progress and always will be. Trees will grow, die and be replaced. Some species, like Bradford pear, have fallen out of fashion; others, like redbud and sweetbay magnolia, have become more popular. Some of our best street trees, like the ash and elm, have been lost to invasive insects and diseases. Others, like the red maple, have been overplanted, making them vulnerable to potential disease outbreaks in the future. When choosing new trees, Bryan also considers the constraints within which a tree must grow. If a site has overhead power lines, for instance, the best choices are shorter tree like redbuds and dogwoods, which will not need to be cut back later (often in unattractive ways) by utility crews. And trees planted near roads need to be pruned so passing trucks won’t knock off branches.

Today Mount Rainier strives to plant and maintain a diverse, mostly native tree canopy that will be resilient to future climate change. These trees will also be crucial for helping us adapt to climate change, which will be bringing us hotter summers and more intense storms. We can all help support the urban forest. Please let your Tree Commissioners know if you see a sick or dying street tree, or if you have an empty tree box in front of your house that would make a good home for a street tree. Consider planting trees in your yard if you have space. Take care if using a string trimmer not to damage young trees. And in hot, dry periods, give your young trees a nice, slow drink of water from the hose. They will appreciate it!

And next time you have a moment, take a look at some of the beautiful trees around you. They help make our city a special place.

Spring 2015 Tree Tour

posted Apr 30, 2015, 2:51 PM by Gabriel Popkin   [ updated Apr 30, 2015, 2:51 PM ]

Celebrate Mount Rainier’s Trees


:tree tour photos:looking at garden.jpg


Saturday May 2, 2 pm

(rain date Sunday May 3, 2 pm)


Meet at the Mount Rainier Nature and Recreation Center, 4701 31st Place


This tour will be led by City Council member and roadside tree expert Bryan Knedler. The tour will focus on trees on and around Arundel Street, where an upcoming levee reconstruction project will have significant impacts our tree canopy. The tour will begin at the Nature Center and proceed to Buchanan Street, the MNCPPC memorial park, over to Arundel to discuss the levee project, and along Arundel to the community garden in Richardson Park.

For more information, contact Gabriel Popkin, Mount Rainier Tree Commission member,
gabepopkin@yahoo.com, 859-619-4769.

Mount Rainier Fall Tree Tour

posted Oct 28, 2014, 5:32 AM by Gabriel Popkin   [ updated Oct 28, 2014, 5:32 AM ]




Saturday November 1, 3pm

(rain date Sunday November 2, 3pm)


Meet at Spring Park (33rd and Shepherd St.)


Join roadside tree care expert Bryan Knedler and the Mount Rainier Tree Commission for a walking tour of some of our city's best fall trees. Prime trees for fall color will be red maples, serviceberries, black gums, zelkovas, and oaks of various sorts. The pace of the walk will be relaxed, with plenty of time for questions and observations. Meet at 3 pm on November 1 at Spring Park, 33rd and Shepherd St intersection, SW corner.

For more information, contact Gabriel Popkin, Mount Rainier Tree Commission member,
gabepopkin@yahoo.com, 859-619-4769.

History of Tree Planting in Mount Rainier

posted Jan 16, 2012, 9:51 AM by Gorav Seth   [ updated Jan 16, 2012, 10:04 AM by Gabriel Popkin ]

Thanks to Bryan Knedler for this information!

In 1970, the first of several “pocket parks” were constructed within the residential areas of Mount Rainier. These are small parks (some the size of two or three house lots) funded in part with federal “Parks in the Cities” funding. In 1976, the Mount Rainier Nature Center was opened in a house converted to that use in the 4200 block of 30th Street. This was the first such urban nature center in the county (later rebuilt off of Arundel Road near the proposed bioretention project). In 2010, the city applied for state Open Space funds to purchase two vacant lots adjacent to the city’s business district with the intention of creating a new pocket park for the heavily built city center which includes numerous apartment buildings. 

The City aggressively seeks grant dollars each year to fund the planting of street trees. In 1972, 100 red maples were planted along the streets. In 1989, 200 trees were planted as part of the first official celebration of Arbor Day in the city. In 1991, the State Highway Administration enlarged the median island of Rhode Island Avenue to allow for the planting of zelkova trees. The City planted 300 trees between 1990 and 1995 and since then, approximately 200 additional trees have been planted in city parks and along its streets.  For the centennial of Mount Rainier in 2010, 100 trees are being planted with city funding augmented with funds from the Prince George’s County ReLeaf Program and a grant from the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area Inc.  

In the 1991 Tree Planting by SHA, 11 Zelkovas “Green Vase” were planted by State Highway Admin. Along Rhode Island Ave. (we've replaced a couple over the years). 5 Redspire pears were also planted by SHA.  1993 ReLeaf grant of $5,000 purchased 21 honeylocusts, 6 gingkos, 3 halesia, 2 red oak, 4 nyssa, 6 golden rain.

In 2011, the Tree Commission wrote for a county ReLeaf grant that planted 35 (mostly native) trees, primarily in the area below Rhode Island Avenue, around Otis street.

Blasts from the Past - 1990

posted Aug 18, 2011, 9:36 AM by Gorav Seth   [ updated Aug 18, 2011, 9:41 AM by Gabriel Popkin ]

Here is a press release from Arbor day 1990, and an article in the Washington post from October 1990 discussing the environmentalism and tree planting of Mount Rainier.

Arbor Day Press ReleaseWashington Post Article - Oct 5 1990

100 Trees Planted Fall 2010

posted Feb 1, 2011, 6:53 PM by Gorav Seth   [ updated Feb 1, 2011, 6:55 PM by Gabriel Popkin ]

Around 100 Trees were planted this fall thanks to the councilman Bryan Knedler and the hard work of everyone on the Tree Commission,  The list of trees on the site has been updated with the trees planted fall 2010.   You can select 2010 for the year planted column to see the new trees planted.

List of Trees is Online

posted Oct 16, 2009, 9:23 PM by Gorav Seth   [ updated Oct 17, 2009, 5:58 PM by Gabriel Popkin ]

We have made a list of all street trees available for you to view or download online.  Click here to view the list.
We will need your help to keep it updated.  Click here to help us by providing information about the trees on your street.

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