GIC evaluated Lake Charles, Louisiana’s urban tree canopy extent, plantable areas, and determined the environmental benefits provided by the city’s trees. This report describes the tree canopy and associated benefits to the city.
This assessment is helping the city meet its goal of recovering tree canopy lost during four federally declared natural disasters that occurred between the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021. The severity of these events decimated the city’s tree canopy with losses of 33% between pre-storms (2019) and post-storms (2022). The city, local nonprofit groups, businesses, foundations and community groups are developing a recovery plan for the region. The “Just Imagine” campaign is envisioning a new 50-year master resilience plan for Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes through catalytic projects that will spur economic growth and create more resilient infrastructure, both natural and constructed. The urban tree canopy assessment compliments and supports this effort. The new land cover data and an accompanying assessment of Lake Charles’ urban forest codes and policies can be used to strengthen management of the city’s urban forest. These tools also can inform the city’s application of green infrastructure to mitigate environmental impacts such as urban heat and stormwater runoff.
Lake Charles can use the results of this report to:
• Support the recovery efforts to replace tree canopy lost from recent natural disasters.
• Build capacity for the City’s tree planting campaign #ReTreeLC
• Document the many environmental and social benefits provided by city trees
• Determine the strategic locations for retaining or planting trees to realize environmental and social equity benefits
• Inform management of the city’s urban forest and support investments in tree care and planting
• Prioritize policy and code updates to support more tree plantings and tree retention
• Use new data to support regional catalytic projects in the Just Imagine Plan