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Protect Natural Urban Areas

Protect sensitive natural habitats and wildlife in the Urban Service Area, protect the urban forest, and significant tree canopies in crucial ecological networks.

Enhancing and strengthening the current Planning process to increase protection and responsible development when environmentally sensitive areas and/or trees are involved would help increase protection of tree stands, rare trees, natural habitats and wildlife within the urban service area in appropriate areas. The Urban Service Area concept uses land wisely for development while protecting valuable soils and farms in the Rural Service Area. When feasible and appropriate, the community should work to protect the natural habitats and trees within the USA; not only for the enjoyment of the people experiencing them, but for environmental and economical sustainability reasons. Conserving these habitats and trees in developments in the USA land reduces the heat island effect, as well as protecting rare and endangered species of trees and other flora and wildlife for diversity.

Providing connections to other greenways, tree stands, and stream corridors increases the linear ecological network, providing wildlife corridors and a diverse ecosystem. When trees are planted as part of development, grouping trees helps create microclimates, which increases the survivability of the trees. Trees play not only an environmental role, but also an economical one; they are assets to the community, as they capture stormwater run-off and reduce energy costs of cooling and heating buildings.

Preserving trees can prove difficult, however, since 84% of the USA land is in private ownership. Public education is important to get the word out to property owners about how valuable their trees are and how to ensure their proper care. In 2012, the Davey Resource Group performed an assessment of Lexington’s urban tree canopy using aerial photographic data. This assessment showed that Lexington’s urban tree canopy coverage was 24.6%. In addition, the Davey Resource Group reported the data by council district and by watershed, and gave guidance on actions that need to be taken to preserve and increase our tree canopy.

Action Item(s)

  • Update zoning ordinance to reflect national best practices on floodplain protections.

Goals and Objectives

GOAL B3: Apply environmentally sustainable practices to protect, conserve and restore landscapes and natural resources.

Objective: B3b

Identify and protect natural resources and landscapes before development occurs.