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Richmond Partners Taking Out Pavement Putting in Trees

Eight native trees in this once-paved area, including a swamp white oak, fringetree, black tupelo, and American yellowwood have been planted 120-foot-long stretch of sidewalk.




Following a two-year effort in South Richmond to address extreme heat and polluted runoff by planting trees in heavily paved areas, this Wednesday the City of Richmond will plant trees in formerly paved stretch of South Richmond together with partners including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), the Virginia Department of Forestry, and University of Richmond.

Earlier this year, the partners used machinery to break up and remove pavement from a portion of a 120-foot-long stretch of sidewalk that was 8 feet wide. The work reduced the sidewalk’s width while still meeting accessibility standards, creating new spaces for trees to grow. The poor, compacted soil beneath the pavement was enriched with compost and biochar.

Wednesday afternoon, the partners will plant eight native trees in this once-paved area, including a swamp white oak, fringetree, black tupelo, and American yellowwood.

Replacing pavement with trees beautifies Richmond streets, cleans the air, and reduces polluted runoff to the James River while shading the street to provide relief from extreme heat. Research shows that paved-over, treeless stretches of Richmond can be up to 16 degrees hotter in the summer than leafier parts of the city. This builds on work earlier this fall by CBF and partners to remove and reforest formerly paved areas at Branch’s Baptist Church in South Richmond.

The effort follows the completion of the Greening Southside Richmond Project this fall, in which the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and partners have planted or given away approximately 780 trees to reduce polluted runoff and cool some of Richmond’s hottest neighborhoods. With support from a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Small Watershed Grant, CBF and partners hope to continue and build on this work in Central Virginia in coming years.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.