What started as a good way to get some trees planted has become a great way to engage hundreds of volunteers every year in helping strengthen flood resiliency for the Houston Metropolitan Area.
The Houston Area Annual Tree Planting Competition invites teams of eleven people (ten planters and a captain) to each plant one hundred trees as fast as they can using best practices. A judge stands ready to throw a penalty flag if participants don’t meet quality control standards. There are professional, amateur and student categories. The all-time record, held by Yellowstone Landscape, stands at just over 12 minutes. That’s right. Twelve minutes for ten people to plant one hundred trees. Talk about professional!
Back in 2007, the City of Houston and TXDOT needed several hundred trees planted along in-town highways and no one to plant them. They approached Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS) Urban & Community Forestry Program and the competition was born. Since then, the event has garnered support locally and introduced thousands of residents to the importance trees have on community resiliency and quality of life. Now a partnership between Houston Area Urban Forestry Council, CenterPoint Energy, TFS and Harris County Flood Control District, this nature-based solution to slowing down and reducing stormwater runoff has resulted in thousands of trees planted in flood prone areas since inception.
Not just a stormwater management solution, the benefits of planting these trees are numerous. From filtering of water and air pollutants to improved physical and mental health benefits of residents, this commitment to tree planting has helped to turn unappealing detention/retention basins into functioning multiple use areas. And these benefits will continue to increase as the trees grow, proving a sustainable resource for generations to come.