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Henrico kicks off new Capital Trees partnership

A person wearing a suit, with their jacket slung over their shoulder, walk down a paved path into the woods
Shaban Athuman
VPM News
Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas leaves after the announcement of a reforestation program partnership between Henrico County, Capital Trees and Henrico County Public Schools on Tuesday, May 9 at Deep Run Park.

Four sites will benefit from the yearlong pilot phase, for which supervisors have approved $50,000.

Henrico administrators kicked off a countywide initiative to strengthen tree canopies throughout local parks and schools at Deep Run Park on Tuesday.

The project aims to promote the healthy growth of woodlands and forests across about 5,000 acres of public land. It’s being done in partnership with both the local school division and Capital Trees, a Richmond nonprofit focused on creating more “public green places.”

“Like our residents, we understand the importance of trees, not only for their beauty, but also for their positive effects on our health and local ecosystem,” said Cari Tretina, Henrico County’s chief of staff, at Tuesday’s press conference.

Four sites have been selected for the program’s pilot phase this year: two parks and two schools. These sites include Deep Run Park and Cheswick Park, which is currently undergoing a transformation of its own. Cheswick Park is closed as it undergoes a $2.1-million renovation. Deep Run Park received a similar $1.5-million renovation in 2021.

The schools have not yet been chosen but are being evaluated based on how limited their tree canopies are, among other criteria.

Tretina, who will oversee the reforestation program, will work with Capital Trees to purchase, plant and maintain new trees. Both will also seek grant funding and coordinate volunteer efforts. The Henrico County Board of Supervisors approved the partnership — and $50,000 for the initial pilot phase — at its April 25 meeting.

“There's robust scientific evidence that well-managed, well-cared-for green spaces improve the quality of life for people,” said Shelly Barrick, executive director of Capital Trees. “They help build climateiresilient communities and they help to connect neighbors with one another.”

Henrico’s school system has implemented several environmental learning opportunities of its own, whether it's the newly fashioned Center for Environmental Studies and Sustainability at Varina High School or its horticultural course offerings.

“We have increasingly emphasized environmental education in a variety of ways,” said Susan Moore, HCPS director of facilities. “The Capital Trees program will allow our students to not only study what reforestation is about, but to learn about it firsthand and to be an active part of the solution process.”

Lyndon German covers Henrico and Hanover counties for VPM News.
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