Delaware’s urban forest was part of the 2016 budget discussion during the City Council meeting this week.
“We were able to plant 351 trees this year,” parks superintendent Stacy Davenport told council on Monday. “What that did was, it got us through the calendar year of 2011 and the start of 2012. These were trees that due to emerald ash borer, we were able to (replace). We’re looking at 2017 before we get totally caught up. I think that’s pretty impressive, considering we had over 1,200 ash trees that were affected.”
Council members asked if all the trees could be replaced sooner, so as not to leave money for the trees still in a fund. Staff said they were replacing what they could yearly, taking into account manpower and maintenance costs.
“Once they’re in the ground, we still have to water them,” Davenport said.
The city pruned 764 trees and removed 62 trees this year, he said. The city’s budget report said pruning of all trees in the city right of way should be done every 3 to 5 years; but the city is currently on a 7- to 10-year average.
The city’s Shade Tree Commission is going to do a pruning program in 2017, starting at Cheshire Crossing. Members of the public can learn the proper way to prune trees, and will volunteer to do the pruning in various neighborhoods. The volunteer efforts may save the city money in contracting out pruning jobs and reduce the average time to prune the trees.
Davenport said Delaware has again received designation as a “Tree City USA” community for the 34th consecutive year. The designation, from the Arbor Day Foundation, has four standards, according to its website. Those standards are: A tree board or department; a tree care ordinance; a community forestry program with an annual budget; and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. More than 3,400 cities in America are a Tree City USA community.
The city budget report states the urban forestry division of the Parks and Natural Resources Department “is responsible for the planting and maintenance of over 15,000 trees with an estimated value of $14 million. … The division reviews all plans, works with contractors on choosing what species are to be planted, where they are planted and the mortality counts on these trees, and maintains records on which trees are under warranty. The division is responsible for the maintenance of these trees, from locating where trees are needed, and when they need pruned or removed. Works directly with the Shade Tree Commission to follow out the mission of the division, works with contractors and citizens for removals, plantings, and prunings.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.