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The wretched condition of the trees on Adams Street NW had been irking Bloomingdale resident Dan Juday for years. But last week, when he decided to sign up for D.C. Greenworks’ Treekeeper Program, which helps locals adopt and take care of street trees, he encountered an unexpected tug at his purse strings: The nonprofit charges individuals a $30 fee per tree. Instead of turning on the hose and tending a neglected tree for free, Juday says, “Well, apparently, for $30 you can volunteer to do it.” Greenworks Executive Director Dawn Gifford explains that the fee covers a TreeGator (a watering device), a newsletter subscription, and discounts at local nurseries and hardware stores. Even with the fee, she notes, saving the trees won’t be easy. “There’s no human way possible, short of starting a tree army, to see that all 120,000 trees get 20 gallons of water each week all summer long,” she says.

—Bidisha Banerjee