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Baltimore Works at Adapting Portland Green Ideas

Long before Al Gore published An Inconvenient Truth, before hybrid cars dotted our roadways, and before recycling became hip, a small nonprofit in Portland, Oregon, was planting trees to help save the planet.

Friends of Trees, a group dedicated to building community through tree planting, was founded in 1989, the same year that the first President Bush created urban forestry departments in all fifty states. And thanks to the organization's consistent work over the last eighteen years-done cooperatively with Portland's Urban Forestry Commission, the Bureau of Environmental Services, and other agencies-this West Coast port city of some 562,000 residents has gained a nationally lauded reputation for its urban "tree canopy."

The name refers to the top layer and widest branches of the larger, mature trees that form a vital umbrella over swathes of the city. This abundance of trees reduces the greenhouse effect, soaks up water to reduce storm-water damage, and promotes energy efficiency by shading homes so less electricity is needed to cool them.

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