PLANT 1,000,000 TREES


  • When the first European set foot on the Piedmont Plateau [on which Cary is built], the land was covered by 99.5% Old-Growth forest.

  • By about 1750 [and by the Revolutionary War at the latest], this Old Growth was cut down in its entirety, primarily to provide masts and plankings for ships of the English Navy that ruled the seas.
  • Over the next 150 years, most of the remaining trees were harvested to provide lumber to build the great cities of the Northeast; to make room for cities and towns on the land; to provide fuel to heat these cities and towns; and to make way for crop and livestock farms on the land.
  • Once the majority of farms and livestock operations had re-located to the more fertile and hospitable land in the Midwest and West, and the abandoned tracts of land were left fallow over the years, the scrub pine tree, an aggressive early-grower that overwhelms and chokes out competing trees, began Nature's process of reforesting the land. Thus human actions have caused the pine tree to replace Old-Growth species as the dominant tree in the Piedmont Plateau and the Town of Cary.
  • When Cary's explosive population-growth began [please see this page], pine trees and secondary growth were felled to make room for buildings, roadways, sidewalks, parking lots, and other impermeable requirements of human habitation.
  • As of 2019 the Town of Cary has fully "developed" about 83% of its buildable surface-area, and in the process has reduced the tree cover to less than 45%. In some of the bare ground in that development trees have been incorrectly planted and improperly nourished. Moreover, these trees are not the original Old-Growth species [with some exceptions], but are one- or two-generation hybrid or specimen trees. These trees are [as are ALL trees] beautiful, but they are essentially of no value to humans, and no value to birds, butterflies, and bees and all manner of wildlife. They will, over their brief lives, absorb little carbon from the atmosphere; filter but small amounts of vehicle exhaust and other particulate matter from the air; won't shade buildings or parking lots from the harsh sun over Cary's now six-month summertimes; and will add not much to the aesthetic quality of the Town and its neighborhoods.
  • Of particular interest are rain storms. Raindrops, when they strike the ground, are either absorbed by the earth or they flow downhill. With ALL of the Old-Growth forest gone, and much of the secondary growth and scrub pine also gone, and with the extraordinarily inefficient re-plantings on developed land, the earth simply does not have the ability to absorb as much water as it did pre-cutting and pre-development. Thus – stormwater runoff.
    — Tree cover in the Town of Cary has decreased from 99.5% to less than 45%. —
  • Further, the lower-elevation land that becomes unundated with stormwater NOW encompasses a much greater area than it did before development. Stated another way, the floodplains for each of the measured times [1-year, 2-year; 5-year; 10-year; 25-year; 50-year; and 100-year] will necessarily encompass more land NOW than they did prior to development. Moreover, with the temperature of the planet predicted [by Trump Administration scientists; p.5-12] to rise by as much as 8.6 degrees F. by the year 2100, both the frequency and the intensity of rain storms and hurricanes will greatly increase.
  • This phenomenon has been mis-characterized, and has been invoked to shift blame for flooding of their homes to innocent homeowners. We've heard it said that Homeowners A, B, and C have only themselves to blame for the flooding of their properties because their homes were built in floodplains. This is oftentimes incorrect. When those homes were built, they were NOT in flood plains. They came to be in floodplains only because higher land was stripped of its trees and transformed from permeable surface to impermeable. Because the higher land could absorb less water, the water necessarily flows downhill, and the greater volumes of water extend outward the boundaries of the various floodplains, and often that extension creeps to include the land on which flooded homes stand.

  • To proceed on the premise that the floodplains of today have the same boundaries they did 50 and 100 years ago is specious. The floodplains of today encompass larger areas. How could they not?
  • A stark illustration of this phenomenon is the situation in North Carolina after Hurricane Michael. After the last raindrop of the storm fell, the floodwaters Down East continued to rise, and rose for 11 days before cresting, until finally all the un-absorbed water from large developed areas of Central North Carolina was able to drain through the low-lying areas and into the Sound and the ocean.

Cary lags way behind many other jurisdictions in this critically important social and moral obligation to treat our planet with respect, and with an appreciation of the results of cause-and-effect.


If developers were to plant noble hardwood trees in front of and behind the houses they build – and plant them correctly and nurture them properly – here is what one single tree could do every year:

Dawn at rex Health
  • absorb 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of rainwater and prevent it from becoming runoff [and as the tree grows, its capacity to absorb rainfall increases],
  • pull 600 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,
  • filter 50 pounds of pollutants from the air,
  • save the homeowner ~$200 in cooling costs,
  • save the homeowner ~$100 in heating costs, and
  • add 5% to 10% to the value of the home,
  • provide the homeowner and his family a physiologically and psychologically healthier premises,
  • add to the beauty of the home and contribute to the beauty of the neighborhood and Town, and
  • contribute many of the additional benefits listed on this page.

Those benefits are gained from but one tree. Imagine how much better off the Town would be with a million more trees!

Moreover, if our hypothetical developer were to plant good trees properly, then have a brochure created that shows what the home looks like NOW; what it would look like with the growth of the trees in five years; and what it would look like in 10, 15, and 20 years – and create a simple chart showing the amounts of money saved on heating and cooling costs over those years along with the ever increasing value of the home because of the beauty of it surrounding property – could he or she not sell the home for a significantly higher price ?