Urban Forestry (“S.A.F.E.R.”) Trail Self-Guided Walk

(We strongly recommend that you print this guide – along with a trail map! – before visiting us, as the supply at the information kiosk is replenished only occasionally)


DISTANCE:  .45 mile / .72 km.
TRAIL MARKERS = Yellow blazes (North Trail)

Welcome to the Urban Forestry Trail, where you can learn how the “green infrastructure” provided by trees helps improve urban quality of life. Communities can offset the ecological impact of land development by utilizing the urban forest’s natural capacity to mitigate environmental impacts. Urban forests also provide social and health benefits for individuals, as well as economic benefits for communities. Trees provide important S.A.F.E.R. benefits to people who live in cities, suburbs, and towns.  Look for white signs with brown lettering for an explanation of the S.A.F.E.R. acronym – Social, Aesthetic, Functional, Economic, and Recreational.  Start on the east side of Bridge “I”.  Follow the yellow blazes for .45 mile/.72 km.

Native trees are an important part of our natural heritage, and many are recommended for planting in challenging local urban forest conditions including: compact soil, limited soil volume, vertical and horizontal space restrictions, improper maintenance and dynamic coastal plain weather.  Ten native trees that are well adapted to these conditions and recommended for planting are identified by white signs with green lettering.  Four native trees that may present problems in urban landscapes are also highlighted with white and green signs.  Assessing a planting location and choosing the right tree is an important tenet of urban forestry.

S.A.F.E.R.   Tree Benefits include

     Social: Mental and spiritual renewal, accelerated recovery from illness, higher workplace productivity, reduced crime

    Aesthetic:  Beautiful scenery, filtered light, color and texture, architectural enhancement

    Functional: Storm water management, pollution absorption, erosion and wind control, wildlife habitat

    Economic: Increased property values, reduced energy consumption, reduced storm water costs, increased retail activity

    Recreational: Hiking, jogging, picnicking, camping, bird watching, nature study

 For many more details on specific urban tree benefits see:












 Planning the Urban Forest: Ecology, Economy, and Community Development  James Schwab (Ed.), American Planning Assoc. Planners Press (2009)

Urban Forestry: Planning & Managing Urban Greenspaces   Robert W. Miller, Waveland Press, Inc.; 2nd edition (2007)

Greenways for America (Creating the North American Landscape)    Professor Charles E. Little,  The Johns Hopkins University Press (1990)

 Recommended Native Urban Forest Trees

            1.       Acer rubrum                             Red Maple
            2.       Amelanchier canadensis    Serviceberry

            3.       Betula nigra                              River Birch

            4.       Carpinus caroliniana            Ironwood

            5.       Cercis canadensis                   Redbud

            6.       Liriodendron tulipifera        Tulip Poplar

            7.       Nyssa sylvatica                      Blackgum

            8.       Ostrya virginiana                 Eastern Hophornbeam

            9.       Quercus virginiana              Live Oak

           10.      Taxodium distichum           Baldcypress

Problem Native Urban Forest Trees

              1.       Acer negundo                    Boxelder

              2.       Juglans nigra                    Black Walnut

              3.       Populus deltoides            Eastern Cottonwood

              4.       Ulmus americana            American Elm

The Urban Forestry Trail was dedicated October 22, 2011 in recognition of the tireless and devoted service of Mik Lestyan to our nation, state, region, and city.  (Major, USMC, Ret., Chesapeake Urban Forester 1996 – 2011, Chesapeake Arboretum President 2003-2005, proponent of the “S.A.F.E.R.” view of Urban Forestry)

Research, compilation & installation of trail notes and tree I.D. labels directed  by Chesapeake Master Gardeners/Chesapeake Arboretum Education Committee members Ed & Linda Bradley, 2011.

We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Riverwalk Garden Club for trail signage on this project.                              

We hope your visit has been both informative and enjoyable, and we invite you to become a dues-paid Friend of the Chesapeake Arboretum, a non-profit, volunteer-operated “Nature’s Classroom”. 



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