RCAP Database | Marathon Case Study of NS-6

Initiative: Urban Forestry

Municipality: 
County: 
Contact Name: 
Geovanna Torres
Contact Email: 
torresg@ci.marathon.fl.us
Coastal/Inland: 
Inland

The success of our business is directly affected by our community’s visual appeal as well as its “green health”. This project will provide necessary data, inventory, analysis, and education for a successful urban forest program for the City and its residents. As Marathon improves with respect to our urban forestry plan, so will our local economy, as it is all connected.

- Daniel Samess, M.S., CEO of Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce

Quick Facts and Statistics

The Florida Keys are home to the only living coral reef system in the United States. The waters surrounding the City of Marathon are part of the National Marine Sanctuary and the designation helps manage rising threats to the ecological future of the reefs. Additionally, the City lies within the boundaries of Area of Critical State Concern and this designation assures oversight from the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) in respect to land and water management policies and to improvements of nearshore water quality. DCA oversight also ensures well-planned, long-term development.

Description

At the heart of the Florida Keys is the City of Marathon. This fishing community holds the distinction of having beautiful clear waters and rare and unique plant communities. In order to conserve and protect native species and vegetation from the threats of development and invasive exotic plantings, Marathon desired to increase the proliferation of native trees and eliminate invasive, non-native plants. One way to achieve this goal was to implement a tree inventory to assess the City’s existing tree canopy, which will then serve as a blueprint for developing incremental approaches to urban forestry issues in the coastal community.

Implementation Process

The City was awarded grant funds under the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in 2008 for the completion of a tree planting inventory and Master Plan. However, the grant was modified to cover only the tree planting inventory. The Master Plan was never completed. In 2014, a Resolution was passed by the City of Marathon to apply for the Florida Urban and Community Forestry Grant as a means to help fund the Urban Forestry Program.

Implementation Timeline

The City of Marathon was incorporated in 1999 and has not updated its Tree Ordinance since 2007. This Ordinance was a vestige from the original Monroe County Ordinance and proved inconsistent with ordinances appropriate for small communities. The City was awarded grant funds under the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in 2008, but the grant only funded a tree planting inventory. As aforementioned, a Resolution was passed in 2014 to apply for the Florida Urban and Community Forestry Grant. The current goals of the project are to gather necessary data, inventory and analysis, and to develop a strategic plan to develop a successful urban forestry program for the City and for its residents.

Implementation Funding

The Urban Forestry Program is funded in part by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Any remaining balance is compensated with City funds.

Community Benefits

Marathon desired to increase the proliferation of native trees and the removal of exotic species in order to conserve and protect native species and vegetation from the threat of development and to mitigate negative impacts from invasive plants. This urban forestry project will help identify potential policy improvements and physical planting opportunities to optimize ecological benefits and services to the coastal community. The tree inventory assessment will also help identify tree risk assessments and hazard reduction during hurricanes and other storm events. The Urban Forestry Program will help sustain our unique coastal environment, strengthen the local economy, complement smart growth concepts, and achieve the City’s mission of improving quality of life for its citizens.