Dying Downtown Trees Slow Efforts To Increase Cleveland's Canopy

four small dead trees in Downtown Cleveland
Downtown Cleveland living proved to be too much for the row of four trees along along East 9th Street and Superior Avenue. [Taylor Haggerty / ideastream]

Downtown Cleveland residents are using social media to draw attention to a row of dead trees along East 9th Street and Superior Avenue.

The City of Cleveland is working to improve tree coverage with the help of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, according to DCA Interim President and CEO Michael Deemer. But the four trees have not sprouted any leaves, despite others along the street continuing to grow.

The local climate has posed challenges for years, Deemer said, and trees die off in the process because of it.

“It’s not as easy as it may seem to maintain the trees in the climate that we have downtown, so this is a perennial challenge for us,” he said. “Going back to the restoration of the Euclid [Avenue] corridor and the creation of the Health Line over 10 years ago, a lot of trees were planted back then and there were a lot of challenges going back that far.”

Residents who spot trees in need of maintenance or replacement can reach out either to city officials or DCA, Deemer said.

“Part of the experience that we try to create for residents and workers is a really inviting, pleasant pedestrian experience, and the tree canopy across downtown is an integral part of that,” Deemer said.

A 2019 study of Cuyahoga County’s tree canopy found many neighborhoods and suburbs have lost coverage since 2011, with areas like Detroit-Shoreway and Edgewood losing roughly 14 percent over those years. Few neighborhoods saw gains.

In 2019, the City of Cleveland pledged an annual allotment of $1 million over a 10-year period to help improve coverage, particularly in low-income areas. That foliage-increasing effort is still very much underway, Deemer said, as areas like Playhouse Square continue to plant trees along the sidewalk.

“That’s something that we want to continue to find opportunities to improve upon,” Deemer said. “Plant stronger, more resilient trees, and again, work with the city to identify strategies to maintain them so that we can keep them as amenities for residents, workers and visitors.”

The City of Cleveland did not respond to ideastream’s request for comment.

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