Source: Ryan Stanton, “Ann Arbor spending $700K to bring back routine pruning in Tree Town,” MLive
Ann Arbor, MI (September 22, 2017) – Ann Arbor has tens of thousands of trees on local streets that the city is responsible for maintaining, but it’s been more than 14 years since the city did routine pruning. Now the City Council has allocated $700K to restore a regular pruning cycle for these trees.
That’s when the city’s forestry department shifted its attention to dealing with the Michigan invasion of the emerald ash borer, a crisis that led to the removal of thousands of ash trees in the city. And then the city dealt with budget challenges during the recession.
In more recent years, Tree Town has been trying to make a comeback in terms of taking care of its urban forest, planting thousands of new trees and putting money toward catching up on a backlog of dead and dying trees and stumps that needed addressing.
Now the city is taking steps to restore a regular pruning cycle for trees along city streets.
The City Council voted unanimously this week to allocate $700,000 and approved a contract with the Ohio-based Davey Tree Expert Co. for the first year of a new 10-year street tree pruning program.
City officials say the area contains several trees dating back to pre-settlement Ann Arbor and represents a native forest fragment, which is considered the highest priority for protection.
This follows through on initiating the routine pruning that was recommended in the city’s Urban and Community Forest Management Plan adopted by the City Council in June 2014.
Mayor Christopher Taylor said he’s delighted the city is moving forward with restoring routine pruning.
“The street tree program is something about which we should all be very proud,” he said. “The residents love the trees. The trees do great work for neighborhoods, for communities, for stormwater, air quality.
“It’s a lot of wins, and it’s the sort of thing that we have regrettably not been able to provide our residents, and now through (increased stormwater rates) we’re able to do so and it’s just great.”
Because trees intercept stormwater, the city has been using stormwater funds in recent years for street trees, and the City Council approved a 28 percent stormwater rate increase this year to, in part, help pay for better tree management.
The 2014 urban forest plan recommended a proactive tree maintenance program for Ann Arbor’s publicly managed trees, emphasizing routine pruning, removals and care to improve the health and sustainability of the canopy.
The pruning to be done under the new contract will focus on pruning street trees to manage tree health, develop/improve structure, mitigate risk, provide clearance and improve aesthetics.
In a memo provided to council members, Gray said trees pruned on a routine basis develop proper form and structure, leading to a variety of benefits, including:
- Lower cost per tree trimmed compared to reactive pruning done in response to storm damage, sight clearance or immediate hazards
- Early identification and correction of insect/disease problems leading to less tree mortality
- Reduction in storm-related tree damage
- Lower future maintenance costs
- Reduction in tree-related service requests and improved customer service
- Development of a healthy and sustainable urban and community forest