Ash Tree Inventories

Detection of emerald ash borer (EAB) in Vermont in early 2018 prompted VT UCF to further encourage towns to conduct public ash tree inventories. An ash tree infested with EAB will likely die within 1-5 years (if not treated) and may become a hazard to public safety. Vermont towns should understand their public ash tree population, including where ash trees are: 

  • in the right-of-way in town centers (street trees) and in high-use areas;
  • in parks, town greens, or other town-owned recreational areas;
  • in the right-of-way on rural roads;
  • near utility lines and should only be managed by utility-trained arborists;
  • in natural areas, i.e. town forests, that could impact public safety if diseased or dying, such as those along trails; and
  • on private land that impacts town properties or the town right-of-way, or are a priority for preservation.

An inventory will facilitate realistic management of EAB by assessing impact to publicly-managed places, prioritizing removals, identifying trees suitable for treatment, and budgeting for tree treatment or removal.  

Check out this video to help you decide what type of inventory might be appropriate for your community or watch the video below to see data collection in action. 

Ash Tree Inventory Options

Depending on the size and nature (urban vs. suburban vs. rural) of your community, and your capacity to coordinate and implement, consider these ash tree inventory options:

Level I: Rapid Roadside Ash Survey

At a minimum, we recommend that you identify and document ash trees in high use areas (town greens, schools, playgrounds, dense residential areas), high use roads (Class 1 roads, emergency access routes), and around emergency facilities. A Rapid Roadside Survey is designed to capture a tally of ash trees. Information is collected on paper forms and the survey can be conducted from a moving vehicle. This form of a survey will produce an estimate of the number and size of ash trees that the town will need to manage for EAB, but will not provide detailed information on individual trees. These resources can assist you: Rapid Roadside Ash Survey Planning Worksheet and Rapid Roadside Ash Assessment Sample Data Collection Sheets.

Level II: Rural Roadside Ash Inventory Tool

If you plan on mapping your public ash trees, choose a GPS-based inventory that ties each tree or grouping of trees to a specific location. VT UCF collaborated with the GIS team at the Agency of Natural Resources to develop a map-based tool that will allow towns to collect basic data on their ash trees (size class, condition, location, and comments). The inventory can be conducted on foot or from a moving vehicle.  There are also a variety of free GPS apps available for smart devices that may suit your needs.   

VTUCF has a limited number of iPads that can be loaned out to communities to conduct a Rural Roadside Ash Inventory, but the app can be downloaded to most smartphones or devices.  Learn more about what devices are compatible with our tool and how you will be able to use and view your data once your inventory is complete. Since the summer of 2018 over 28 towns have collected data on over 29,000 roadside ash tree data points using this tool.

Contact Joanne Garton if you are interested in using or setting up a technical training session for the tool. We have a robust Rural Roadside Ash Inventory Tool Guide that we can share upon request.

Examples of Rural Roadside Ash Inventory Summary Reports and Maps

Bradford (and survey map)

Level III: Municipal Tree Inventory 

If you would like to collect detailed information on each individual tree, you may want to consider conducting a complete municipal tree inventory. Since 2013, VT UCF has been using an app and inventory tool to assist Vermont towns with inventories of planted, managed trees in downtowns and village centers, and densely-populated residential areas. This form of inventory will produce the most detailed information, but will also require a significant investment of time for training and data collection. Learn more about Municipal Tree Inventories or contact Joanne Garton for technical assistance.  

Ash Tree Inventory Considerations

Answer these questions to help you determine the scale, scope, and format. 

  • How will the data be used? What is the goal of collecting the data? 
  • Will you conduct a full or sample survey/inventory? 
  • Who will collect the data, and over what time period (municipal staff, volunteers, contracted professionals)?
  • What is the extent of the area(s) you will include in the inventory? 

Accurate identification of ash trees will be crucial for a successful and efficient inventory. 

Visit the Vermont Forest Pest Planning Case Studies page to learn how nine Vermont communities inventoried ash trees in their town and developed an Emerald Ash Borer Preparedness Plan. These towns varied widely in population, size, and resources, creating unique town experiences and lessons learned. 

Visit the EAB Municipal Management Case Studies page drawn from six municipalities in the Midwest, New England, and Vermont. These communities vary in population, percentage of public trees that are ash, and resources. Each case study includes the economic costs of ash management for that municipality.