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Students win award for tree canopy plan

by Denise Fitzpatrick, communications and marketing last modified May 15, 2012 02:14 PM

Ten University of Louisville graduate students developed a plan to enlarge Louisville Metro’s urban tree canopy that not only has received a state award but also has contributed to the city’s efforts to plant and better care for trees.

Students win award for tree canopy plan

Trees in front of Ekstrom Library show why UofL is a Tree Campus, but graduate students last year found that inside I-264, Louisville is a tree desert. Their plan won an award May 14 and has influenced city government.

Students in Tony Arnold’s “Land Use and Planning Law” class spent four months developing the 71-page plan in spring 2011 as a service learning project.

They were Evan Conder, Andria Marie Heard, Robert Klump, Amanda Strong and Jason Reynolds from urban planning and Waleed Bahouth, Riley Duck, Tina Nance, Julia Taylor and Brian Weber from law. Arnold, a professor of law and urban planning, holds the Boehl Chair in Property and Land Use at UofL.

The students used aerial photos and other data to analyze the tree canopy in the Louisville Metro area inside the Watterson Expressway and recommended ways to increase it from 27 percent to 40 percent.

Their work received an outstanding student project award from the Kentucky Chapter of the American Planning Association.

“It also was a key factor in getting our tree advisory commission started,” said Katy Schneider, a mayor’s office volunteer who co-chairs the commission. The Louisville Metro Tree Advisory Commission, which Mayor Greg Fischer formed last fall, has set a goal of planting more trees and taking better care of existing ones.

“It was tremendously valuable to us because the students had done so much of the research,” Schneider said. “It put trees on the radar of the policy-makers and decision-makers.”

Echoing what the students found, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported in early May that Louisville is becoming an “urban heat island” because it has too much pavement and too few trees.

People who are interested in learning more about the topic can attend a talk titled “Trees, Cities and Climate Change: How Louisville Can Cool Itself Down.”

Brian Stone, a Georgia Institute of Technology professor who is studying rising urban temperatures across the country, will speak June 5 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Glassworks Building, 815 W. Market St.

UofL’s Urban Design Studio sponsors Stone’s talk. Admission is free, but advance registration is required. Sign up here.

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