Monday, July 25, 2011
QUESTION: Why is the City Paving over Tree Sites? ANSWER: It's Actually Part of a Plan to Plant 2,000 New Trees
On our street, two trees have been removed and no new trees planted. The city told us that we actually had to formally request for the tree to be planted, otherwise the city doesn't. ... Once we learned that you actually have to request for the tree to be planted, we contacted the city and not only the spot has been paved over, we have not heard anything back.
Somerville has quite a few initiatives for "greener city" including the new Facebook page, but doesn't seem to have a sound policy for keeping the streets green. Where can I find a formal policy? Most of the affluent cities around have a lot of trees -- Cambridge, Belmont just to name a few nearby. Could we mimic their policies?
ANSWER: Thanks for asking about trees in the city. This is an issue that the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen care deeply about and are addressing on several fronts. It's true that residents are encouraged to request trees, but the City also independently plants new trees and replaces sick trees as well. In fact, the City recently introduced an ambitious plan to increase Somerville’s tree canopy by 20 percent over the next five years.
In 2009, the Somerville Urban Forest Initiative conducted a complete tree inventory of the city (accessible to the public here), finding 11,062 public trees. In 2010, work began to replace roughly 850 sick or dead trees. In 2011, the City then launched an effort to plant 2,000 new public trees by the end of 2015. In spring 2011, approximately 220 new trees were planted and we expect to plant a total of 400 by the end of the year. Some $75,000 in annual federal funds as well as City funding supports the program.
So while residents may request trees, the City also actively seeks public sites on main thoroughfares, in parks, and in public squares--as well as side streets with low tree inventories--and plants trees on those sites.
As part of the Urban Forest Initiative, City staff have also undergone retraining in tree care, and community outreach efforts have sought to engage citizens in requesting and caring for trees. In addition, in 2009, a Tree Advisory Committee was created (currently it is being reorganized) and a Tree Preservation Ordinance was enacted.
Paved Tree Sites are Just Temporary
As for the trees on your street and Highland Ave. It’s likely these trees were removed outside of planting season. For an urban tree to have the best chance of survival, it needs to be planted in early spring or late fall. So, when a diseased tree is removed out of season by the City, the remaining gap is temporarily paved over for public safety reasons. When planting season arrives, we will redig a site for the tree and replace it.
If this is the case, the sites you mention should automatically be slated for replanting, but come early fall, please feel free to call 311 and offer a reminder. Please note, however, that occasionally, some trees are removed for structural reasons, such as issues with pipes or wiring. These tree sites are generally not replanted. If planting season passed without these trees being replaced, please contact me and I will investigate further: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are more ways to help bring trees to the city:
• Request a Tree on Your Street: Residents may call 311 to request a tree. To request a tree, you must own the property next to the sidewalk where the tree will be planted. When you make the request, please ask for your work order number. You may use this number to call and check up on your request.
• Request a Tree for Public Space: While the City generally returns to replace removed diseased trees in public areas, a nudge from residents can’t hurt. Please call 311 if you notice a missing public tree to request it be replaced or to request a new tree on a new public site.
• Adopt a Tree: Adopt a public tree. Volunteer to maintain a tree. Contact 311 for information about tree-maintenance practices.
• Get involved: Many groups in Somerville are dedicated to preserving and expanding green space. Groundwork Somerville maintains a list of local groups and activities. Visit Groundwork at: www.groundworksomerville.org.
SOMERVILLE TREE DATA (2009):
• Number of public trees: 11,062
• Distribution of trees: 9,230 are street trees, 2,112 are in parks/public spaces, 30 are in “borderline right-of-ways”
• Number of public and private trees: 30,000-50,000
• Cost to plant a City tree: approximately $250 to $650
• Total value of Somerville’s inventoried public trees: $15.9 million
• Average value per public tree: $1,437.68
• Variety of trees: Somerville’s tree population comprises 101 species representing 52 genera. The most common trees in Somerville are maples (32%), pears (14%), honeylocust (9%) and linden (8%).
To take a look at the city’s tree inventory, click here: http://www.daveytreekeeper.com/mass/MI_Somerville/
Posted by ResiStat at 1:54 PM