Mayor’s Tree Commission recommends building on current forestry successes

City of Fort Wayne Seal

Press release from the City of Fort Wayne:

Mayor’s Tree Commission recommends building on current forestry successes
Ten proposals come from comprehensive review of existing program

Mayor Tom Henry’s tree commission has recommended the City of Fort Wayne’s Parks and Recreation Department continue to build on the well-managed urban forestry program by creating a comprehensive approach to caring for the city’s tree canopy.

“For a number of decades, the City of Fort Wayne has had strong, proactive care of our city’s park and street trees. Our urban tree canopy is one of our community’s greatest natural assets and this report’s recommendations can help us preserve what we have while fostering an environment for new growth, so to speak,” Mayor Tom Henry said. “I would like to thank the ad-hoc commission members for their time and dedication to this report. They recognized the strengths of the Parks’ forestry program and identified ways to advance it.”

The tree commission’s report recommends transitioning from a focus on maintenance to a broader responsibility that becomes a comprehensive urban forestry program with continued public engagement and support. The 10 recommendations, in no particular order, were to:

  • Obtain tree canopy coverage data for the City of Fort Wayne through a study of privately and City-owned trees
  • Integrate the existing street tree inventory into the GIS system
  • Increase species and genus diversity of street trees for improved tree health and sustainability
  • Improve storm and emergency response to speed tree-related removal and clean-up
  • Update and modify the emerald ash borer plan
  • Increase enforcement of existing tree and landscape zoning ordinances
  • Develop urban forestry educational outreach program for City staff, developers, youth and general public
  • Diversify and evaluate resources including non-traditional funding sources
  • Update policies and procedures through comprehensive review of tree-related policies
  • Establish an ongoing tree advisory board to review policy and procedure and foster public-private partnerships to preserve and grow the urban tree canopy

“The tree commission applauds the City’s high standards of tree care, which are among the best in the state. The pruning cycle and emerald ash borer plan reflect the proactive approach that the City has taken regarding the care of City-owned trees,” said Carol Cavell, commission co-chair and executive director of Trees Indiana. “The recommendations of Mayor Henry’s tree commission are intended to improve existing programs and provide the framework for a more complete urban forestry program that results in long-term citizen support.”

The report also noted that Fort Wayne’s trees add to the city’s quality of life, improve air quality, reduce stormwater runoff, and according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division, they provide a yearly benefit of nearly $5.2 million to the citizens and taxpayers of Fort Wayne.

The commission will formally present its findings and recommendations Nov. 19 to the Board of Park Commissioners, who with Parks and Recreation Director Al Moll will be responsible for implementing the suggestions. Commission members will also make a presentation at the Great Tree Canopy Comeback volunteer picnic Saturday at Salomon Farm Park.

Mayor Henry appointed the ad-hoc commission on Arbor Day 2009. Members of the commission were: Jason Kissel and Carol Cavell as co-chairs and Karl Bandemer, Jeff Baxter, Bill Brown, Tom Cain, Bill Dietrichs, Julie Donnell, Dan Ernst, Karen Goldner, Jeff Ling, Al Moll, Kim Sabrosky, Kevin Scott, Chad Tinkel and Pone Vongphachanh.

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