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TMDL Tree Planting

Project Background

Floura Teeter provided planning and analysis services to evaluate over 700 potential tree planting sites in Baltimore and Harford Counties. GPS and GIS technology were used to inventory and assess each sites’ viability, identifying constraints and opportunities to inform site selection for tree planting to satisfy Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) goals. TMDL is the maximum level of pollutants that can be discharged to a body of water without causing it to exceed water quality standards. This project is one of many funded by Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) to offset water quality impacts caused by impervious surfaces and reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment entering the Chesapeake Bay.

In Baltimore County, 18 sites were selected for TMDL tree planting for a total of 37.46 acres of revegetation. Site analysis began with field observation and meeting with clients and/or stakeholders to determine the concerns and priorities of the site. A system of metrics was developed for site viability, including presence of environmental features, appropriate site access, utilities (both above and below ground), and any other condition that might impact planting or eliminate the planting area from consideration. GIS mapping and attribute tables were developed from the gathered data to determine the sites that qualified for planting.

GIS data was developed into mapping plans and survey stakeout plans. Planting plans were also developed for each site. Plant species were chosen based on the conditions and context of the site and to complement the surrounding native ecosystem. Floura Teeter developed solutions for each site to individually respond to the local microclimates, hydrology and intended ecology creating a regenerative cycle of clean water opportunities for the Chesapeake Bay. All sites will be planted by the end of 2018.

Living Systems / Performance

By understanding establishment needs and succession of forests, Floura Teeter has the ability to provide an effective, environmentally responsive design that reduces nutrient load and reestablishes native habitat through TMDL planting.

Forests are living systems that provide ecological services improving the environment we live in. By using iTree software, a tool developed by the USDA forest service, Floura Teeter can analyze a proposed planting plan to quantify ecosystem services and gauge a reasonable estimate of the valuation of the community benefits afforded by the new plantings. This program uses baseline data to measure the value of trees, from a single tree in a yard to an entire forest covering acres of land. Providing tangible quantification for trees can guide effective decision making by individual property owners, neighborhoods, cities and states.

Outlining the ecosystem services that forests provide is one way to encourage stewardship of the natural environment. Trees provide ecosystem services, whether as an individual street tree or as a forest. Integrating the natural with the built environment is necessary for widespread ecosystem services benefits, improving the quality of life in the everyday places that make up the spaces where we live, work, and play.

Project Category:
Environmental Design
SHA District 4: Baltimore & Harford Counties, MD
Maryland State Highway Administration

Ecosystem benefits by the numbers:

18 individual sites totaling 37.46 acres of forest planting

Ecosystem services and estimated metrics provided by new forest plantings using iTree (for a duration of 20 years after installation):

  • Stormwater runoff interception – Quantity: 43,954,850 gallons, Value: $351,602
  • Air quality improvements – Value: $31,480
  • Carbon sequestration – Quantity: 5,832,716lbs, Value: $103,180

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