The City of Reno wants your input to update tree protections

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 11:26 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - January will be an important month for the future of Reno trees.

Local leaders are hoping to reduce the environmental impact of our area’s rapid growth.

“Reno, Nevada, one of the fastest-warming cities in America, sometimes at the very top,” said councilwoman Naomi Duerr. “We want to change that whole dynamic.”

This month is your chance to weigh in on the proposed changes.

The city is working on updates to tree protection standards after efforts to do so were stalled due to the pandemic in 2020.

“Our tree canopy sits at around five percent, most high-desert cities like us, maybe like Boise or Salt Lake, most of those kinds of cities have 10 to 15 percent tree canopy,” said Duerr.

Duerr, who is also a liaison for the Urban Forestry Commission says preserving the city’s urban forest has social, environmental and economic benefits for the community.

“Trees provide a unique benefit to help us with that cooling effort and also when homes have trees, they’re generally perceived as having greater value,” said Duerr.

Some residents have mentioned how the ordinance will be used to stop developments. Councilmember Duerr says it is the opposite.

“We have not met air quality standards in 40 years, because we haven’t met them it has actually pushed away certain types of development. There was a plant that was scheduled to come into our region, we didn’t meet air quality, they moved down to Minden,” said Duerr. “If we don’t meet these standards it can actually discourage development. Trees will help us get there.”

The proposed ordinance clarifies some of the current language, which has been described as ‘vague.’

“You should keep a tree if you can on a property that’s being redeveloped and you need to maintain that property. If you need to redo the landscaping on a property, you need to come in and show us how you’re either going to save trees or replace trees.”

New developments will need to show the city they will keep the trees on-site and if that’s not possible, perhaps donate money to Releaf Reno or help the city plant trees in other places.

“You will see in that draft ordinance an enhancement in incentives for preserving existing trees as well as an enhancement in the mitigation requirements for those people who want to remove trees,” said Kelly Mullin, principal planner for the community development department.

The city says it has been actively planting trees for the last five years and doing tree giveaways.

Single-family homes will be exempt from tree code standards.

The ordinance also suggests having funds available for homeowners who would like to preserve a champion tree on their property.

The city is holding a series of public meetings, including a virtual workshop on Thursday. It gets underway at 5:30 p.m.

To register for the workshop, click here.

“The great thing about this project is the diversity of the stakeholder groups,” said Mullin. “We have stakeholders everywhere from property owners, business owners, development community, environmental groups, lots of different groups we want to get the perspectives that they have about the tree ordinance.”

Whether you have an issue with the ordinance or agree with it, the City of Reno would like to hear from you.

If you would like to provide online comments, fill out this form.

After the public workshop, the city will develop a draft that will be reviewed by the Urban Forestry Commission.

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