The New Orleans Parks and Parkways Department has started a Public Green Space Tree Replacement and Restoration program. It is part of a continuing effort to re-green the city following the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The program aims to replace damaged trees and add fill to holes or depressions on targeted public green space. New trees will be planted on about 20 avenues and boulevards and in four municipal parks. (View a PDF showing tree planting locations.)

"Landscaping enhancements will benefit residents and businesses city wide by providing a vibrant, attractive, public space," said Ann Macdonald, director of Parks and Parkways. "These types of projects are vital to neighborhood revitalization and the redevelopment goals set forth by Mayor C. Ray Nagin during our historic recovery."

The Parks and Parkways Department will begin its restoration of the city's green space by spreading fill, seeding and watering to re-establish turf where soil eroded or washed away, and by planting more than 1,800 trees. The trees will have a minimum two- to three-inch caliper (diameter) trunk size, all estimated to stand 10 to 12 feet in height to meet the department's minimum tree size specification.

"This new planting initiative will allow us to install an interesting palette of native and ornamental trees that we have not used on the city's public green space, such as Gingko, Silverbells, Chinese fringe tree, Parsley hawthorn, Possumhaw, Alta magnolia, Dahoon holly and Japanese blueberry," Macdonald said. "We have seen them in private gardens and are excited to bring new species of ornamental trees to our urban landscape."

Phase one of the project will cost about $750,000 and will include the initial restoration of neutral grounds and passive parks that Parks and Parkways oversees. The project will encompass the largest concentration of trees planted by Parks and Parkways in more than 20 years.

The second phase, which includes about 2,000 additional new trees, is slated to begin in the fall and to be completed in winter 2011.

In 2005, city officials estimated that more than 100,000 trees had been destroyed or damaged by salt water across the city. In 2006, Parks and Parkways lobbied the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for funding to remove those trees with assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"We lost thousands of trees after the storms of 2005, and the impact to the urban canopy was tremendous and will take years for the trees to be replaced and mature," Macdonald said.

The department began the process of soliciting funding for the project in 2008 and was awarded a Disaster Community Development Block Grant by the city's Office of Community Development.

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