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Lancaster Creates Searchable Database Of Street Trees

By Conni Kunzler | September 26, 2016

Lancaster, PA (September 22, 2016) – The City of Lancaster, PA has made available a searchable database of some 9,000 trees along streets and in public parks. The data is being used to better manage the city’s urban forest health and resiliency, including a recent fight with emerald ash borer.

lancaster-paThe map is available for anyone to view. Find it here. Green dots indicate individual trees. Clicking on the tree allows you to see its species, its health, and if known, when it was planted. Purple and lavender squares represent existing and potential tree planting sites. More search functions will eventually be added.

Starting in May 2015, Douglas Smith, the city’s sustainability planner, began created the site with help from Jim Bower, the city’s arborist, and Philip Johnson and Glen Recknagel, city geographic information system staffers, and two interns.

They began with a tree inventory compiled in 2011 and 2012 as part of the city’s Green Infrastructure Plan to control stormwater runoff. The information isn’t just data for data’s sake. “It allows you to manage your urban forest, its health and resiliency,” Smith said.

The tree data was helpful when the city fought the emerald ash borer last year. To combat the invasive insect, the city cut down 110 ash trees — 60 in Long’s Park and another 50 along streets and elsewhere.  The city is treating 52 ash trees in Long’s Park and 30 others elsewhere in hopes of saving them. And for every ash cut down, two trees were planted.

Smith also hopes the searchable inventory will spur interest among residents to plant more trees. Currently, 28% of the city is covered by tree canopy. The city wants to get to 40%, which will require trees in yards and other private spaces.

“Tree canopy has been shown to increase property values, provide shade to pedestrians, cooling of houses and generally makes the neighborhood a more desirable place to be,” Smith said.

And by using iTree software from the USDA Forest Service, Smith said city staff can model how much stormwater the city’s trees capture and estimate the trees’ impact on air quality and carbon sequestration.

“We could not measure those ecological benefits if we did not have that tree inventory. It allows us to put a value on that and quantify that,” he said.

Read the full article: Dan Nephin “Lancaster creates searchable database of trees along streets, parks,” Lancasteronline

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