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Trees can provide natural shade at playgrounds [Letter]

Protecting children from overexposure to the sun while on playgrounds is indeed a laudable notion. But the erection of “shade structures” as detailed in [the Dec. 7 story] “Canopies coming to four county parks to limit sun exposure” has me pondering.

Is this just another manifestation of Howard County’s obsession with the built environment?

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Is our Recreation and Parks Department overlooking trees as a naturally occurring, sustainable means of providing shade? Granted, a newly planted tree does not provide much shade immediately — all the more reason to leave some well-established trees when developing parks and playgrounds.

It is disheartening when residential and commercial developers strip and flatten the land and do minimal replanting with landscape species. However, when the county sets that poor example by doing the same when it develops parks, schools, and government facilities, it really sets a bad example. State statistics show Howard County has one of the worst reputations in Maryland regarding forest retention. Between 2002 and 2010 we lost 2,367 acres of forest with accelerated development since.

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Reforestation efforts on playgrounds can succeed if children and maintenance crews are educated to protect and value trees.

Susan Garber

North Laurel

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