SCHENECTADY — A plan to maintain the city’s “community forest,” which consists of thousands of trees found along roadways and parks, is set to be reviewed publicly later this month.
The city’s Community Forest Management Plan recommends spending thousands over a seven year period to grow the number of trees throughout the city and maintain the 11,545 trees identified along public rights-of-way and parks.
The plan was completed following a citywide tree survey last year conducted by PlanIT GEO, a Colorado-based urban forestry consulting firm, which found that 80% of trees in the city can be found along public rights-of-way with most in average condition. The survey and management plan were paid for using a $61,200 Urban and Community Forestry grant from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
A copy of the plan can be found on the city’s website and a public hearing is set to take place at the Mont Pleasant Public Library, located at 1036 Crane St., on April 26 at 5:30 p.m.
“We look forward to hearing from the community as we roll out this comprehensive plan to create a healthy and sustainable community forest that is properly managed and cared for, benefiting all of Schenectady’s residents,” Mayor Gary McCarthy said in a statement.
The plan lays out a series of short- and long-term recommendations for improving the city’s community forest, including the removal and replacement of more than 1,449 dead, diseased and damaged trees throughout the city.
Sixty-six of the trees are recommended for immediate removal, including 47 along public rights-of-way and 19 in city parks, while 1,380 are recommended to be removed within three years.
The plan calls for planting up to 207 trees over a seven year period to compensate for the loss.
In addition, plans call for creating a seven-year pruning schedule once all the dead and damaged trees are removed in order to maintain 7,523 established trees. It is recommended that 1,074 trees be pruned each year, which includes the removal of dead or damaged branches and other maintenance to ensure tree health.
A total of 2,473 other trees were classified as young in the survey, with diameters of 6 inches or less, and are recommended for “training pruning” over a three year period to ensure proper branching structure and overall health. The plan calls for pruning 824 such trees a year.
The plan recommends $215,463 in spending over the first year, and no less than $211,278 and $425,864 over the second and third years, respectively. The remaining four years call for no less than $379,664 in spending, according to the plan.
“Annual budget funds are needed to ensure that high risk trees are remediated and that crucial routine pruning and young tree pruning cycles can begin,” the plan reads. “With proper professional tree care, the safety, health, and beauty of the community forest will improve.”
Trees have a number of benefits in urban areas like Schenectady by helping to reduce stormwater runoff, increase property values and improving the quality of life, according to the plan.
There are also a number of environmental benefits associated with a thriving urban forest, including improved air quality for residents and the capturing of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas and major contributor to global warming.
“The quality of life of the citizens in any community depends on the community forest, as trees make a vital and affordable contribution to the sense of community, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, energy savings, and air quality,” the plan reads.
The city has taken a number of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in recent years, including installing a number of electric vehicle charging stations, LED streetlights and municipal solar arrays.
In 2019, Schenectady was recognized as a Clean Energy Community by the state’s Energy Research and Development Authority and was recognized as a Climate Smart Community by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
“It is our goal that these efforts will have a lasting impact on the health and vibrancy of our neighborhoods for generations to come,” McCarthy said.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.