On April 21st, 2020 twelve trees were planted in North Brentwood Park in Prince George’s County, Maryland, thanks to a grant funded by Chesapeake Bay Trust in partnership with Prince George’s County Government. The planting was also made possible due to the efforts of Ciminelli’s Landscape Services. Through working with county residents, and Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission staff- North Brentwood was identified as a park where the trees could create and improve green space, increase habitat, and prevent stormwater runoff and soil erosion in the park.

One initial goal of the tree planting was to engage approximately 20-30 community volunteers to assist with the efforts on planting day. Engaging volunteers provides a unique opportunity to connect with local community members and supply educational materials to expand the knowledge of the many benefits of trees. Volunteer engagement increases project impact because volunteers may be influenced to plant trees in their yards or lead their own tree plantings in the future. When we were a week away from the planting at North Brentwood Park, all non-essential gatherings were canceled to protect the health and safety of the public due to COVID-19. A day that was initially scheduled to have dozens of volunteers on site planting trees in their own neighborhood park quickly turned into a project that was completed by a small crew from Ciminelli’s Landscape Services nearly a month later than originally anticipated. This quick transition would not have been possible without strong partnerships. While faced with unanticipated challenges it is still possible to meet, and even exceed your original goals through collaboration and creative thinking. 

Although volunteer engagement was not possible on planting day, I have high hopes that the newly planted trees will be utilized in the park, and impact will be felt throughout the community. River birch and Red Maple trees were planted along a stream which will prevent soil erosion in the park, and create green spaces for individuals to recreate over time. With a maintenance plan designed and put in place, the trees will be monitored and assessed over the upcoming months to ensure proper growth. 

Working in the environmental field with ever changing issues, requires a flexible and adaptable approach when addressing situations. Although adjustments were made throughout the project, success was made possible thanks to willing and involved partners. Planting trees in the ground the day before Earth Day, which will provide environmental and community benefits for years to come, is a win in my eyes.