(BLOOMINGTON) – The City of Bloomington has contracted with Ohio-based Davey Resource Group, Inc. to conduct a comprehensive count and evaluation of trees and spaces available for planting trees in city rights of way, along with city streets, and in some city parks.
Having begun last week, five teams of arborists will be conducting this urban forest assessment through the end of April.
Over the course of the inventory, arborists will record data about the size, species, and condition of nearly 18,000 publicly owned trees and public planting locations. Tree data collected, along with aerial photos and Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping, will allow staff to update the five-year Bloomington Urban Forestry Plan with prioritized tree planting needs, and to identify, prune, or remove trees that pose a risk to people or property. The total cost for Davey Resource Group’s work, including final urban tree canopy assessment, tree inventory report, and TreeKeeper software, is $125, 250.
“The more information we have about our urban trees, the better decisions we are able to make for the overall health of the urban forest,” said city urban forester Lee Huss. “Tree removals, tree pruning, and tree planting keep our crews busy year ’round. Knowing exactly where the most critical tree maintenance needs are is a great management tool for our people and equipment.”
Identifying where trees are most needed in Bloomington also serves as preparation for the tree canopy replenishment being funded by the recently passed Bicentennial Trees and Trails bond, an $800,000 allocation. The inventory will not only pinpoint where trees need to go but what species of tree is suitable for the available space.
The second level of the inventory and assessment involves a broad look at all Bloomington’s trees. A healthy urban forest provides numerous benefits to a community, including the energy conservation afforded by the forest’s provision of shade and windbreak. Trees promote environmental health by absorbing air pollution, reducing stormwater runoff, and providing food and habitat for wildlife. Knowing more about the city’s entire tree canopy helps forest managers plan to maximize those benefits for the entire community’s quality of life.
After the fieldwork is complete, inventory data will be uploaded into TreeKeeper, a tree inventory management software system. This new data will be compared to numbers collected during two previous tree inventories in 1994 and 2007.
“As a Tree City since 1984, Bloomington is committed to maintaining a healthy and plentiful urban forest for ecological reasons, as well as the health and quality of life of those who live, work, and visit here,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “As climate change continues to destabilize our weather and our landscape, we must be increasingly vigilant in our stewardship of natural resources. This inventory is one tool that will allow us to do so.”
Bloomington’s commitment to its trees was formally acknowledged in 1984 when Bloomington became the first city in Indiana to receive Tree City USA designation from the National Arbor Day Foundation. The designation requires that a city maintain a tree board or commission, a tree care ordinance, a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita (Bloomington’s is more than $8.50 per capita), and an annual Arbor Day observance and proclamation. The city has successfully met all the criteria to retain its Tree City designation every year since 1984.