Author Archive


DC’s Urban Forest

Trees help with reduction of storm water and watershed issues, heating and cooling of areas (e.g. the urban heat island effect), improve the quality of the air and the overall aesthetics of the environment.

The District of Columbia has addressed a study that suggested a decline in the District’s tree canopy by offering several programs for its citizens to become involved in the re-planting of its neighborhoods. Some of these programs include a Water-by-Cycle program, which uses bikes to water trees in difficult to navigate areas, a Summer Crew program, which takes 10 high school students every summer to weed, water and mulch trees in the hopes of improving their chances of survival in the critical early stages of growth. As a result of the effort since 2002 the district has installed 350,000 square feet of green roofs.

DDOT Urban Forestry Administration has been doing great work in tracking its progress to restore the District’s urban tree canopy. They recently won a GIS award from ESRI for their use of the the ArcGIS platform to improve street tree management.

Recently, New York City has taken on an initiative, MillionTrees NYC, to plant and care for one million new trees across the City’s five boroughs over the next decade. MillionTrees NYC is a public-private program aimed at increasing NYC’s urban forest by 20% so that the residents may benefit from the environmental impacts that trees provide.

The District and New York City are not alone in this initiative. lists the 10 Best Cities for urban forests as: Austin, Charlotte, Denver, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, Sacramento, Seattle, Washington, D.C.

These initiatives are important because urban forests are critical to the impact of our environment. What are steps your city is taking to improve its urban forest and how are you helping?

Narom Lous is a civil engineering graduate of the Florida State University. He is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers’ Environmental Special Interest Group.


Puerto Rico – A fresh and peaceful place


Puerto Rico – A fresh and peaceful place

A fresh new year after Puerto Rico

My husband and I went to Puerto Rico and had a great time there. It had clear blue ocean, fresh air, sunshine… it was paradise.


San Juan is the oldest and most picturesque city in Puerto Rico. In my opinion, the history gave this city a rustic feeling. Standing on the old Castillo or “El Morro”, as the locals call it, looking at the endless ocean, you can imagine yourself as a Spanish colonist in 1500s. It’s no wonder they wanted to live there and enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean. (pic)

Most business in Old San Juan comes from tourists from cruise ships. It’s an interesting town because everything has a history. There are stores and bars that have interesting history, we heard about a guild tell us the bar used to accept bachelors. Also, you should never forget the Bacardi.

As a planner, I loved the walkable streets. You can walk along the San Juan Gate by the sea for a nice activity, or you can even walk in between houses to get where you need to go. Surprises come often, cats are everywhere, sleeping or yawning. Each building is painted in different colors; visually, you never feel bored.  IMG_7797IMG_7785IMG_7683

I appreciated that the historic sites, such as the Castillo, San Juan Gate, and Cathedral, were so well preserved. However, I think Old San Juan should make the district more walkable. The streets are narrow already and cars can drive through, which makes congestion so bad and makes it uncomfortable as a pedestrian. The streets become even narrow when there is street parking. If I were a planner for San Juan, I would restrict the cars in the area, forcing them to park before they enter the historic district.

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The most awesome thing we saw was the Bio-bay, a bioluminescent bay near San Juan, which we experienced during night kayaking. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we saw the sea water glow. People who swim in the water looks like glowing angels. We all remember the scene in Life of Pi, but now I saw it with my own eyes. (However, we are not able to take photos)

Another breathtaking moment occurred on the plane as we traveled from San Juan to Culebra Island. As you can see in the photo, the water is so clear and you can see the depth of the ocean presented by the different colors of blue.

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Play by the beach


Waking up early in the morning to see the sunrise.IMG_8064

Oh, and Piña Colada.


Everything is so peaceful.

By the end of the trip I fell in love with Puerto Rico and wish to go back there soon. This trip gave 2016 a beautiful ending, but also refreshed us to fill us with the energy and courage for 2017. I hope everybody will have a beautiful new year!!!IMG_7679


Mei Fang, is an urban planner with a strong passion in urban and landscape design, she also enjoy looking for the variety culture inside of the city.



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