By Amber Veverka
On a blustery March day last year, Syreeta Kitchen-Dukes and her neighbors in the Applegate Community of east Charlotte gathered in rainy front yards to meet the neighborhood’s newest residents: 177 young trees.
The would-be forest arrived with a crew from TreesCharlotte, a public/private collaborative whose goal is to plant trees in neighborhoods that need them. That definitely applied to Applegate, a fairly new development near Mint Hill, says Kitchen-Dukes, president of the Applegate Homeowners Association.
“Unless the homeowners themselves planted trees, no one really had trees in the yard,” she says. “It’s so bare around here.”
The new maples, oaks, magnolias and other trees taking root there are among scores planted last year in Charlotte, part of a City Council-approved campaign to get 50 percent of the city covered by trees by 2050. Right now, about 46 percent of Charlotte land area is covered in tree canopy, and reaching 50 percent means adding a half-million more trees – and that doesn’t count trees needed to make up for unforeseen clearing.
When Dave Cable, head of TreesCharlotte, looks at his group’s private-property planting record, he feels good – until he considers that during the same time his group planted some 4,000 trees, billboard companies were cutting down more than 4,000.