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Soak Up the Rain: Trees Help Reduce Runoff

Trees are valued for the beauty and many other benefits they bring to our landscapes and neighborhoods. Trees are increasingly recognized for their importance in managing runoff. Their leaf canopies help reduce erosion caused by falling rain. They also provide surface area where rain water lands and evaporates. Roots take up water and help create conditions in the soil that promote infiltration.

Information About Trees

Making Urban Trees Count, Center for Watershed ProtectionExit
A robust collection of resources and research-based tools for crediting trees in stormwater and water quality management programs.  Includes an urban tree canopy BMP crediting protocol, water balance model documentation, and the comprehensive literature review:  Making Urban Trees Count: A Project to Demonstrate the Role of Urban Trees in Achieving Regulatory Compliance for Clean Water Exit

Trees & Stormwater Exit
The Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) and its team of national partners are developing a guide for local decision makers to integrate trees into stormwater management design and policy applicable across the nation. The guide is being designed to help overcome the widespread lack of understanding, acceptance, and credibility of using trees for managing stormwater by providing a practical tool that informs local decision makers of options and best practices for including trees in stormwater facility design regulations and policies.

Urban Tree Canopy, Green Infrastructure, U.S. EPA

Stormwater Trees Technical Memorandum, U.S. EPA, 2016
Trees in the urban environment provide many benefits and tree programs face challenges that can affect their success. This technical memorandum addresses planting and maintaining trees adjacent to roadways or sidewalks in urban areas where buildings and impervious surfaces create harsh environments.

Reducing Heat Islands Compendium of Strategies: Trees and Vegetation, U.S. EPA (PDF) (32 pp, 4.4 MB, About PDF)
Shade trees and smaller plants such as shrubs, vines, grasses, and ground cover, help cool the urban environment. Describes the causes and impacts of summertime urban heat islands and promotes strategies for lowering temperatures in U.S. communities.

Trees Tame Stormwater, Arbor Day Foundation Exit
Posters, including an interactive version, describe the problem of too few trees and the many benefits of abundant trees.

Control Stormwater Runoff with Trees, USDA Forest Service (PDF) (2 pp, 127 K, About PDF) Exit
Fact Sheet describes how trees help reduce runoff.

Stormwater to Street Trees, Engineering Urban Forests for Stormwater Management, EPA (PDF) (34 pp, 2.7 MB, About PDF)

Woody Shrubs for Stormwater Retention Practices, Cornell University, 2014 (PDF) (56 pp, 33.2 MB, about PDF) Exit

iTree Exit
USDA Forest Service software to help communities quantify the structure and benefits of trees.

TreeVitalize, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Exit
TreeVitalize is a public-private partnership to help build capacity within communities to plan for, plant, and care for trees, and to offer educational trainings to help citizens understand the diverse benefits of trees and the importance of properly planting and maintaining them.

Local resources


Connecticut Native Tree and Shrub Availability List, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (PDF) (12 pp, 256 K, about PDF) Exit
A (January 2005) native tree and shrub availability list for locating native planting stock.

Native Plants for Landscape Use in Connecticut, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation Exit

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Selecting, Planting, and Caring for Trees and Shrubs in the Maine Landscape, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Exit

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Absorb The Storm - Create a Rain-friendly Yard and Neighborhood, Lake Champlain Sea Grant, University of Vermont Cooperative Extension (PDF) (24 pp, 2.5 MB, about PDF) Exit
Discusses a number of steps homeowners can take, including trees, to help prevent the problems associated with runoff.

Main Streets to Green Streets, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (PDF) (2 pp, 4.2 MB, about PDF) Exit
Fact sheet describes some of the issues and benefits of using trees in managing stormwater in our downtowns.

Urban Tree Canopy, Watershed Management, Vermont Agency of National Resources Exit
Basic information and links about urban trees to help manage stormwater.

Vermont Tree Selection Guide (PDF) (28 pp, 3.7 MB, about PDF) Exit
A guide to help citizens match trees to sites to achieve lasting shade.

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