" BES Project Abstracts 2006
Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2006 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Reforesting Baltimore: Challenges Past and Present
Buckley, Geoffrey
Abstract: While much attention has been devoted to the establishment of professional forestry in Maryland, relatively little has focused on the roots of urban forestry in Baltimore. While both state and city forestry programs trace their roots to the Progressive Era, their paths diverge from there. Even the origins of the two programs differ markedly. At the beginning of the 20th century, state-wide forest conservation practices in general – and acquisition and management of public lands in particular – were concepts that had to be “sold” to a largely indifferent general public by state government officials. In contrast, professional forestry in Baltimore was readily accepted by city residents many of whom took up the task of “selling” the idea to a famously unresponsive municipal government. Civic organizations and neighborhood associations, in particular, played a prominent role when it came to spearheading the drive to establish an agency to care for and manage the city’s trees. Civic enthusiasm notwithstanding, by the 1940s, it was clear that Baltimore’s trees were suffering from disease and neglect. Faced with the difficult task of growing trees in an urban environment, as well as chronic under funding, the Division of Forestry found itself locked in a near-constant struggle just to hold the line. Indeed, by the 1950s, some officials were referring to the “losing battle” being waged to protect the city’s trees. Using state and municipal government documents, historical newspapers, and civic and neighborhood improvement association records, this paper explores the early years of professional urban forestry in Baltimore.