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Nonprofits Plan to Reforest Long Branch with Grant Money

Conservation Montgomery, Safe Silver Spring and Uno Granito de Arena will recruit teens to plant trees in the neighborhood.

Long Branch, the Silver Spring neighborhood with Flower Avenue and Piney Branch Road as its main thoroughfares, doesn't have enough trees, a collection of nonprofits announced this week. Lack of tree cover could influence quality of life for the people, the health of the environment and, possibly, criminal activity. 

Three nonprofits—Conservation Montgomery, Safe Silver Spring and Uno Granito de Arena—have pledged to reforest a small area of the neighborhood, which is a sub-watershed of the Chesapeake Bay, with a "Community Greening" project, financed by a $5,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. 

“We’ve known for a long time that a healthy tree canopy contributes to the overall quality of life and health of a community, improving air quality, water quality and mitigating the impacts of climate change and the heat island effect in urban communities,” said Caren Madsen, chair of Conservation Montgomery. Madsen will lead the community greening project. 

The project leaders say Long Branch is one of the barest areas in the county with only 13 percent tree cover. Nonprofit American Forests recommends a minimum of 25 to 30 percent tree canopy to maintain the streams and creaks within the sub-watershed and to promote quality of life, according to a release. 

The plan is to work for a full year, recruiting middle and high school students, mainly black and Latino kids from underserved areas of Long Branch, to plant 25 trees. Organizers will work under the guidance of Montgomery County's planning department to determine where the trees should go. 

The hope is to add some green to Long Branch and also reduce crime. 

"A growing body of research points to a connection between ample green space and tree cover, overall higher quality of community life and lower crime rates," reads a release from the project, citing a study from the University of Washington College of the Environment

The project is expected to be complete December 2013. 

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