A Resource Guide on How to Get Free County Trees

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Large shade trees line the streets of Coral Gables.

Getty Images

As tropical South Florida continues to be impacted by climate change, residents of Miami-Dade are facing rising temperatures. Neighbors share that electricity bills are getting more expensive and others worry about their children playing outside on scorching afternoons. For residents looking for blazing heat solutions, one answer is trees, which can be obtained for free from the county.

Here’s what Miami-Dade residents need to know about trees and the steps to get them on your street.

What are the benefits of having more trees in my neighborhood?

Trees provide a wide range of environmental, economic and health benefits to the communities in which they are planted. Trees can help cool communities and reduce electricity bills, mitigate the effects of air pollution and flooding, increase property values, and protect residents from adverse effects. heat and sun.

Unfortunately, various communities across the county are not taking advantage of these benefits. In 2021, an assessment conducted by the University of Florida and Florida International University found that communities of color and low-income communities in Miami-Dade County tend to have fewer trees. To see how the amount of trees in your community compares to other places in the county, you can use this interactive map.

The map will show you the tree canopy for your zip code, municipality, commission district and more. You can also read more detailed information about the tree canopy and your community in the 2021 Urban Forest Cover Assessment.

Bunche Park and Coral Gables Tree Canopy Comparison
Google Earth images of Bunche Park and Coral Gables show the difference in trees in each community.

What is tree cover?

Tree cover is the percentage of a given land area that is covered in leaves and branches when viewed from above. In 2021, Miami-Dade County’s overall tree canopy was 20.1%.

The more trees there are in an area of ​​land, the higher the percentage of tree cover will be. For example, in side-by-side images of the Bunche Park neighborhood of Miami Gardens and Coral Gables, Bunche Park had a tree canopy of 15.12% in 2020, while Coral Gables had 44.24%. In Bunche Park, a place where the poverty rate is over 20%, people with less money probably have to pay proportionately more to keep their shade-deprived homes cool, children play in parks where the heat is hotter and local schools often have recreation areas.

If your neighborhood has too few trees, here are some ways to get free county trees.

County and local government resources

Neat Streets Miami Tree Gifts

Miami Neat Streets is a multi-jurisdictional council that oversees initiatives related to planting trees and increasing the county’s tree cover. Throughout the year, Neat Streets will be offering tree giveaways where residents can get free trees for their property. To find out about upcoming giveaways:

Follow @MillionTreesMiami on Facebook Where instagram

Email them: [email protected]

Adopt a tree program

Another resource for getting a free tree for your property is the Adopt a tree program. Adopt-a-Tree takes place several times a year and allows duplex owners and those living in single-family homes to get up to two free trees per year. Here are some things to know about this program:

You must bring photo ID and proof of your residential address.

Trees are limited on a first-come, first-served basis.

Apartment buildings and mobile home parks are not eligible.

For more information, you can contact the program at 305-372-6750 or follow the Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources on instagram for updates.

Contact 311

If you are looking to obtain a tree for public property, such as the swale in front of your house or for a county-owned right-of-way, contact 311. The demand will go to Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces as this service has a certain time of year when it plants trees. To contact 311, you can:

Call 311 or 305-468-5900

Email [email protected]

Use the 311Direct mobile app

Meet in person at a 311 contact center

Contact your district commissioner

Another option for obtaining a tree is to contact your district commissioner. While filing a 311 request is important, the district commissioner can reach out on a voter’s behalf to get a tree for a swale or right-of-way. Communicating with your commissioner is also a way to express any concerns about the lack of trees in your area. To learn more about your district and district commissioner, visit here.

GREEN Miami-Dade Matching Grants Program

If you are interested in participating in an organized effort to get more trees in your community, one option is Growing Roots for Environmentally Equitable Neighborhoods (GREEN) Miami-Dade County Matching Grant program. The GREEN program is funded by the county and allows municipalities, non-profit organizations and community groups to plant trees on public lands. Grants of $5,000 to $100,000 can be awarded to those who apply. Each group’s planting plan will be judged based on the following criteria:

Existing tree cover and income level

Project improvements

Resilience/Impact

Community Outreach

Help us point out the shade throughout Miami-Dade

Our reporters want to hear more about the experiences of locals living in places with too few trees. Are your electricity bills high? Is your neighborhood noticeably warmer than other places in the county? If any of these experiences apply to you, please complete our form. A Spanish version is available here.

You can also help us report by sharing the link to this page on social media with friends and other members of the community.

This story was originally published November 11, 2022 5:00 a.m.

Alyssa Johnson is an investigative reporter for the Miami Herald in partnership with the Ida B. Wells Society. She is the 2022 NIHCM Award winner and Gold Smith finalist for her work on air pollution at ProPublica, where she was previously an engagement reporting officer.

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