SCHENECTADY COUNTY -- A tree service is looking at the health of trees in three Schenectady County municipalities, assessing whether they could be at risk of disease or attack by invasive insect species that are already in the Capital Region.
The survey work is being funded by $100,000 in state grant money and is being done this spring in Glenville, Rotterdam and the city of Schenectady. The survey will start Tuesday in Glenville and will last through about June 8, town officials said.
"They are going to be doing a baseline so we can more easily tell when there is an invasive," said Glenville Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle.
The grant was obtained in the fall by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schenectady County, working with the county's Environmental Conservation Council. The survey is being performed by Davey's Tree Expert Co. of Latham.
Glenville Town Planner Kevin Corcoran said the program will use satellite technology to locate and map about 6,000 trees in each community, and also assess their health using about a dozen criteria.
Town officials said the public can expect to see white Ford vehicles with "Davey's Trees" signs on them parked on a number of residential streets and in subdivision neighborhoods, and crews will be using notebook computers to inventory the trees.
"People should be aware there might be people in white vehicles looking at trees, but they won't come into the property," Koetzle said. "They will be looking mostly at trees in the public right-of-way."
The information will help the city and towns develop tree management plans.
"Properly placed and managed trees cleanse the air we breathe, intercept rainfall, reduce the amount of runoff that reaches storm sewers, provide shade that helps conserve energy by cooling buildings and surfaces such as concrete, and help to absorb carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change and improve property values," Cooperative Extension officials said in a grant explanation.
State officials, who are providing funds through an Environmental Protection Fund grant, noted the help the survey could provide in identifying trees damaged by invasive species.
"These investments will help improve the quality of life in New York neighborhoods by supporting the replacement of trees impacted by invasive species," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in announcing the funding, in October.
Invasives are present locally, as are deadly tree diseases.
Glenville has experienced incidents of oak wilt, a fungal disease that can be deadly to oak trees. The emerald ash borer has also been found in Schenectady and southern Saratoga counties, and the hemlock woolly adelgid has been found in Rotterdam and areas south of the Mohawk River, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Typically, when diseased trees are found, they are removed in an effort to protect healthy surrounding trees.
"Giving us an idea of our trees and an overview of their health is a huge help to us," Koetzle said.