Texan by Nature (TxN) is proud to partner with 140+ conservation organizations working to positively benefit Texas’ natural resources and communities through innovative approaches. TxN accelerates conservation by bringing conservation organizations and business together through programs that connect and convene diverse stakeholders and catalyze science-based conservation efforts and projects to accelerate impact.
Learn more about TxN Conservation Partner Texas Trees Foundation and their work creating a new green legacy for North Texas through transformational, research-based plans that educate and mobilize the public to activate the social, economic, environmental, and health benefits that trees and urban forestry provide for a better quality of life.
Q: Tell us about Texas Trees Foundation and its mission.
A: Texas Trees Foundation (TTF) was established by Robert Decherd and Trammell Crow in 1982 as the Dallas Parks Foundation, a 501c dedicated to supporting the City of Dallas’ park system. In 1998, the Foundation merged with Treescape Dallas, a project funded in part by the Junior League of Dallas and the Central Dallas Association, a group of downtown property owners. At this time, specific initiatives were funded, and the scope of Dallas Parks Foundation expanded.
In 2003, the Foundation was renamed Texas Trees Foundation to expand the area of focus from Dallas to the North Texas region – and beyond – to better address environmental challenges. Now, TTF serves as a catalyst in creating a green legacy throughout Texas through transformational, research-based projects and programs that educate and mobilize the public to activate the social, economic, environmental, and health benefits that trees and urban forestry provide(s) for a better quality of life.
The mission of the Texas Trees Foundation is (i) to preserve, beautify and expand parks and other public natural green spaces, and (ii) to beautify our public streets, boulevards, and rights-of-way by planting trees and (iii) encourage others to do the same through educational programs that focus on the importance of building and protecting the “urban forest” today as a legacy for generations to come.
Q: What is the history of Texas Trees Foundation?
A: Keystone impact of Texas Trees Foundation on urban landscape projects took root in 1988 with two significant projects—the first of which included the acquisition of 3.7 miles of an historic railroad line, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, known to many as the Katy. This significant project led to the creation of prototypes for the Katy Trail, now a premier destination for jogging, biking, skating, and walking in Dallas. Later, in 1991, Pioneer Plaza was created and installed in downtown Dallas – a set of bronze sculptures of 49 steer and 3 cowboys, depicting the Santa Fe Trail. It is now one of the most visited sites in the City of Dallas.
In 2004, as Texas Trees Foundation’s impact on urban forestry took further root, the TXU Energy Urban Tree Farm and Education Center was created at Dallas College Richland Campus.
Over the years, the tree planting activity of the Foundation has grown from providing several hundred trees per year to providing thousands of trees each year. Since 2007, TTF has had exponential growth—with the annual budget increasing from $250,000 to $10 million. Key programs include Cool Schools, SWMD Streetscape Transformation, Urban Forestry Consulting, Green Jobs Workforce program, Nature Lab, and more than 100 plantings per year.
In 2022, Texas Trees Foundation celebrated 40 years of creating cooler, greener, cleaner, and healthier communities. To date, TTF has planted approximately 1.5 million trees. To review a timeline of activities, visit texastrees.org/history.
Q: How do you work to achieve your mission and who is your audience?
A: The Texas Trees Foundation created a strategic plan, using the following guiding principles:
- Education is essential to understanding complex issues to take action.
- Research provides the basis for evidence-based design, education and project development.
- Trees increase the quality of life in communities and are an essential component to sustainable, resilient communities.
- Land stewardship is the key to healthy trees, people, and a healthy community.
- Trees and people need to be nurtured and celebrated!
The strategic plan has successfully guided us to become a leading urban forestry nonprofit with national recognition for our initiatives, programs, and projects. Using evidence-based design, research, and reports, TTF has been able to strategically identify where investments are needed to increase tree cover for a more equitable urban forest and for human health. A new strategic plan will be created in 2023 that will provide a roadmap for the future.
Our audience includes people of all ages and backgrounds prioritizing low income, underserved areas in cities throughout North Texas with projects throughout the State of Texas. The Dallas Tree Equity Planting Report is our newest research identifying where tree planting is urgently needed. Dallas Tree Equity Planting Map (2022).
As of 2023, the staff of Texas Trees Foundation is comprised of more than 20 employees with expertise in urban forestry, urban design, landscape architecture, education, workforce programs, public health and more.
TTF has developed a collection of research reports and studies over the years, all of which have shaped our strategy and direction for a wide array of urban forestry projects and programs, including mitigation of urban heat.
Q: What are some examples of your projects or programs?
Cool Schools Partnership Opportunities (2023)
Green Jobs Workforce Program (2023)
Fort Worth Urban Forest Master Plan (Nov. 2022 – present)
Particulate Matter Filtration by Urban Vegetation (2022)
Dallas Tree Equity Planting Map (2022)
Urban Forestry & Tree Plantings Update (2022)
Dallas Urban Forest Master Plan (2021)
Tree mapping website launched (2020)
Urban Streetscape Master Plan, Southwestern Medical District (2019)
Dallas Urban Heat Island Mitigation Study (2017)
Completed comprehensive tree inventory at the George W. Bush Presidential Center & Library (2017)
University of North Texas at Dallas Report (2016)
Cool Schools Program Launched (2016)
State of the Dallas Urban Forest Report (2015)
Downtown Dallas Tree Inventory and Ecosystem Services Benefits Report (2014)
Southern Methodist University Tree Inventory and Ecosystem Services Benefits Report (2013)
Mesquite Urban Forest Ecosystem Analysis (2012)
NFL Super Bowl XLV (2010)
Pioneer Plaza installation (1992)
Q: What are the ecological and economic benefits of your organization’s projects and programs?
A: Research has consistently shown that trees and green space provide a host of benefits to the environment and economy, including mitigating the effects of extreme heat, reducing crime, boosting real estate values and sales, and improving public health. Thriving urban forests bolster human health by encouraging physical activity, providing respite from stress and mental fatigue, and reducing respiratory illnesses and premature death stemming from air pollution. Urban trees filter the air by removing pollution which improves a city’s overall air quality. Trees also reduce runoff of sediment, pollutants, and organic matter into streams, improving water quality.
Since Texas Trees Foundation began in 1982, the impact of an estimated 1.5 million trees planted by Texas Trees Foundation, estimated over the course of 50 years, includes:
- 3,240,904,000 pounds of carbon dioxide sequestered. This saves $145,840,680.
- 3,084,543,915 gallons of rainfall intercepted, at a savings of $524,372,465 relieving burden on the city’s storm water systems.
- Remove 13,580,682 pounds of air pollution, improving the air quality leading to healthier air. This provides a savings of $55,273,379.
- Create an estimated 2,250,000,000 square feet of additional tree canopy (1,500 square feet per tree).
Moreover, TTF provides an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) report to all our corporate sponsors, which quantifies the value and their return on investment.
“Conservation and renewal of green infrastructure by means of tree planting serves as both a critical–and rewarding–investment. A greener landscape means a healthier community. As the inextricable connection between trees and human health unfolds, groundwork is then established for a more interconnected, whole ecosystem that supports biodiversity. Trees–and people–are symbiotic.” -Janette Monear, CEO
Q: Tell us about the future of your organization. Do you have any upcoming initiatives, exciting events, or even challenges ahead?
A: 2023 is a year of tremendous and expansion and growth for TTF as a whole…
- Launching Green Jobs Workforce Program: Designed for young adults, 18-24 years of age, to meet the growing needs for a trained workforce in urban forestry and arboriculture.
- Designing a new strategic plan for Texas Trees Foundation, one that creates a holistic, public health focus to create a viable platform for action and change.
- Staff development to identify skills and strengths and identify professional and personal development opportunities.
- TTF growing beyond North Texas in 2023, including tree plantings in Corpus Christi and developing an Urban Forest Master Plan for the City of Fort Worth.
- Dallas Tree Equity Planting Map: Launched in 2022, working with Dallas city officials on tree planting sites in underserved areas most urgently in need of tree canopy and looking to launch additional Equity Tree Planting Reports to cities throughout Texas.
- Grow and enhance Nature Lab, a “Think and Do” green think tank to effect change through education, research, and policy.
- Exhibitor at 2024 EarthX: The World’s Largest Green Gathering giving away 4,000 seedlings to attendees.
- TTF Staff invited to present cutting-edge research on extreme heat and urban design at the International Conference on Countermeasures to Urban Heat Island – Melbourne, Australia in December 2023.
- SWMD Streetscape Project: Increased and ongoing need to do more work with less resources to address the acceleration of climate change and effects of urban heat islands.
- Managing the constant evolution of three major environmental challenges (air quality, water quality, urban heat) – informing and educating the public, including professional architects, city planners, and healthcare providers on the critical link between urban forestry, the built environment and public health.
- Navigating the impending launch of and establishing resources for Nature Lab: TTF’s research-based initiative for health + nature.
- Educating the public so that they can make better choices about how to engage.
Q: Are there any other interesting news / events / facts about your organization?
A: In 2022, we celebrated we 40th Anniversary. In the same year, we relocated our main office at the invitation of Lyda Hill Philanthropies to Pegasus Park Plaza. Additionally, starting in Fall 2023, we will begin our fundraising campaign for the SWMD Streetscape Project.
Q: How can people get involved with and learn more about your organization?
A: Year-round volunteer opportunities: sign up here!
Sponsor a planting: firstname.lastname@example.org
Help with “Nat Lab” initiatives: email@example.com
Tour the TXU Urban Energy Tree Farm & Education Center: firstname.lastname@example.org
Intern opportunities available: Contact email@example.com
Texan by Nature is proud to partner with 140+ conservation organizations across Texas. Through our Conservation Partner network, we connect conservation organizations with the resources and relationships they need to extend their initiatives’ impact. Partner benefits include on-going features on social media, monthly media round-up, quarterly meetings, aggregated resources on fundraising, marketing/social media, and more.