The Forest Service has a long history of working in and with communities to restore land and watersheds. Whereas most of this work takes place in rural or semi-rural areas, research and coordination work being done by the Forest Service and partners is facilitating community transformation in blighted neighborhoods of Baltimore.
By some estimates, there are up to 40,000 abandoned homes in Baltimore. Many of these homes are made of materials, including brick and wood, which can be re-used rather than being sent to the landfill. The sale and re-use of this material pays for the added costs associated with carefully deconstructing a house, rather than quickly demolishing it. Deconstructing a house creates six to eight times as many jobs as demolition, and creates jobs for people who may otherwise have difficulty finding employment.
After a house is deconstructed, a vacant lot stands in its wake. Working with local partners, the Forest Service is helping to transform vacant lots into beautiful green spaces that contribute to the vitality and health of neighborhoods and its residents. This is being achieved through the creation of GROW (Green Resources and Outreach for Watersheds) Centers and the Green Pattern Book and Registry.
By weaving together the pieces and bringing disparate partners to the table, the Forest Service is leading the development of a business model for Urban Wood & Land Restoration Economy in Baltimore that can then be applied in communities across the country. This attracts private sector businesses willing to invest in a community, and promotes ecosystem restoration and economic development while improving the lives of people in community.
Sarah Hines, Urban Field Station Network Coordinator, US Forest Service
Lauren Marshall, National Program Lead – Urban and Community Forestry, US Forest Service
Dr. Morgan Grove, Audiology Online
Jeff Carroll, Vice President, Details Deconstruction
Michael Braverman, Baltimore City Housing and Community Development, Commissioner, Baltimore Housing
Mark Cameron, Watershed Liaison, Baltimore City Department of Public Works