An accurate and up-to-date public tree inventory is the foundation of any community’s tree management and stewardship efforts. From a tree inventory, a community can determine the species diversity, age distribution, condition, and maintenance needs of the trees for which it is responsible. Additionally, a tree inventory can help to identify potential tree planting locations and can be a great outreach tool to engage more citizens in the value of a healthy urban forest. However, tree inventories are labor-intensive and require a level of technical expertise that many Vermont communities lack, especially since the vast majority of towns and villages statewide do not have a paid arborist on staff and depend on volunteers or public works departments to manage and steward public trees.
The Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program (VT UCF) is currently working on the Care of the Urban Forest project, funded by a grant from the USDA Forest Service, to assist twenty priority communities in moving their urban forestry programs forward in three specific ways: completing a public tree inventory, developing an urban forest management plan or strategic action plan, and providing technical training for the town employees and volunteers who maintain public trees. The partner communities for this project, to date, are: Colchester, Essex Junction, Shelburne, Swanton Village, Northfield, Bristol, Vergennes, Middlebury, Johnson Village, Montpelier, Hinesburg, Milton, St. Albans City, Lyndonville, Springfield, Rockingham, Brattleboro, and Barre City.
Thousands of public trees have been inventoried over the past three field seasons and data collection has been completed by community volunteers, student interns, VT UCF staff, and foresters from the VT Dept. of Forests, Parks, & Recreation. All inventory data is publicly available on the ANR Atlas tool. Once the inventory is complete, VT UCF analyzes the data and develops an inventory report (see completed reports here) for each community. Planning assistance is provided by the local Regional Planning Commissions to develop a tree plan based on the results of the inventory. The technical tree care trainings are intended to increase in-house capacity to manage trees; the first round of these trainings is being offered throughout October 2015 to the partnering communities by Mark Duntemann, founder and Consulting Urban Forester with Natural Path Urban Forestry Consultants.
For more information on the Care of the Urban Forest project, email Elise Schadler.