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In D.C., You Can Now Plant A Tree With Little More Than A Click

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A new website lets D.C. residents pick and choose where the city should plant street trees.
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A new website lets D.C. residents pick and choose where the city should plant street trees.

It's Arbor Day, and some arborists in D.C. have a little more work to do thanks to a new website. It's called Get D.C. Trees and makes it easier than ever for residents to request new trees along their neighborhood streets.

The website came from Code for D.C. programmer Emanuel Feld, who saw that the city's Urban Forestry Administration had data on every street tree box in D.C. and was happy to share it.

His new website puts that data in interactive map form. Visit the site and you'll see the diamond of D.C., covered with orange dots representing every place where a new street tree could conceivably be planted.

"It basically shows you what they see. They have to know where trees could be planted, or where there's a box where there's maybe an electrical line that prevents a tree from being planted there," he says. "It's all the information that's important to them and that they're very nicely sharing with the public."

Click on one of the orange dots and some options pop up: You can request a new tree, or see the location on Google street view. You can even sign up to become a D.C. Canopy Keeper by adopting a new tree and helping with water, weeds and mulch in its first two years of life.

Earl Eutsler is with the city's Urban Forestry Administration, a division of Department of Transportation. He says residents have long been able to request new trees by calling 311. But he calls what Feld has done with the new website slick and interesting.

"Our administration has had an explicit focus on having an open and transparent deployment of our activities and assets and whatnot, and this is a direct outcome of making all of the data related to our street trees fully available and open to the public," he says.

Eutsler and the Urban Forestry Administration have been pretty busy — they've planted 15,000 street trees in the past two years.

"And I believe that that would represent the densest planting of any eastern city in the United States," he says.

Eutsler says the UFA has seen a surge in requests for new tree planting since the website launched this week. Residents desperate for a new tree on their favorite street may have to wait at least a little while: Eutsler says time is running out in Spring planting season for requests to be properly analyzed, most suitable spots won't get trees until the next planting season — which happens in the fall.

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