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Peculiar connections among the nation’s cities can contribute to inordinate levels of greenhouse gas emissions. One is Portland, Ore., where cities bordering the Willamette River share a growth spurt in traffic, apartment housing and commuter rail. In turn, it has trapped roughly 165,000 trees in a shallow depression of soil rather than canyons farther upriver and further north. As low-lying trees give way to islands of developers’ lawns, hundreds of thousands of acres have vanished – from Boston’s Charles River to Portland’s Willamette River, from Los Angeles’ Bunker Hill Parkway to New York’s Turtle Back Zoo.

Green-minded residents can help save these and other urban forests by taking a few simple steps, and some US cities have already done so. (Washington Post photo by Stacy Teicher Khadaroo)

How Washingtonians are going green to save trees

The soggy Metro was dug up in 2014, and plans for replacing it with an underground tunnel system are months behind schedule. Metro operates on budget (yet always breaks or suspends service more than a few times a year, which is still more than its competitors, buses and trains.) Amid that delay is a real, successful victory. A block-long stretch of underground walkways was built atop old railroad track beneath 11th and U streets NW and was completed in time for the 2015 inauguration of President Barack Obama and the March for Life. Donations by local business owners, nonprofits and government officials meant that Metro could have built walkways in less than one-sixth of the time.

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