Faces of Urban Forestry Misc Trees

James Settle, Roanoke, Virginia, Neighborhood Leader and Former Parks Advisory Board Member

By Anthony Marek | February 20, 2015

James Settle“This stretch of road was a racetrack,” said Roanoke, Virginia, resident James Settle, recalling how speeding cars used to pour across a nearby bridge, down his street and past his family’s home.

Walking in James’ neighborhood was truly a dangerous proposition – until the City of Roanoke, a long-time Tree City USA recognized community, planted 26 ornamental and shade trees at the foot of the bridge. The trees grew into an effective entryway to the neighborhood and a buffer between busy traffic and single-family homes. The constancy of speeding cars subsided.

The new trees slowed traffic and made the neighborhood safer. In fact, James says he has never felt safer, and that the 26 trees made all the difference.

“If we could do only one thing as a neighborhood, we’d plant trees,” he said.

roanoke james sWhile other local neighborhoods hoped to realize the same safety benefits, a challenging budget situation reduced the overall number of trees that the city would be able to plant. Undeterred, James inspired a local volunteer group of tree stewards with the goal of giving every resident the same sense of comfort he now experiences.

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