October 18, 2010 -
The City of Knoxville's upcoming tree planting season will be a little busier this fall thanks to a $20,000 grant from the state's Division of Forestry.
The Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program grant for community tree planting projects on public lands will allow the city's Public Service Department to acquire and plant about 200 additional trees next month.
It marks the third consecutive year that the city has received the competitive TAEP grant. In 2008, Knoxville got $8,400. Then in 2009, Knoxville received $18,300 in grant funds to maintain and re-establish large, mature canopy trees along boulevards and major streets.
"We're very pleased to receive this grant, especially for a third straight year," said David Brace, deputy director of the city's Public Service Department. "Our urban canopy is an important element in the overall attractiveness of our city. Trees improve the appearance of our historic neighborhoods and our main streets, provide cooling shade, reduce air and noise pollution and improve water quality."
"Trees make a big difference and the city is committed to good urban forestry practices that will help us expand our existing canopy and better maintain what we have," Brace added.
Overall the city will plant nearly 400 trees this year with a little more than half of them coming from the grant funds. All in the Garden Landscaping plants the new trees and initially waters and mulches them and the city's Horticulture Service Division takes over at that point.
"Our goal has always been to try and have a nice canopy of trees for our parks, boulevards and main thoroughfares and we are focusing on that again this year," said Chad Weth, Planning Coordinator for the city's Public Service Department.
He said the grant money will be generally be used for large canopy trees including maple, oak, elm and poplar trees. They'll be going in at locations all across the city.
"A lot of our boulevards are in pretty good shape but we still have some places that need help," Weth said. "Papermill Road is an area we're looking at. The parks are another big area as we're going to plant some in Lakeshore, Fountain City and Chilhowee Parks. There are also some schools, South Knoxville Elementary, Dogwood Elementary, South-Doyle Middle, and at Bearden Elementary and Pond Gap."
Weth said while Public Service and the city's Tree Board focuses on city medians and main corridors, "we also work with schools and neighborhoods as much as we can."
In addition to the large canopy trees the city is adding with the grant money it will also plant a variety of other trees including redbud, dogwood, crepe myrtle and holly trees.
Knoxville has some advantages in cultivating trees because of its relatively temperate climate and long growing season. But there are some issues too.
Drought conditions damaged or destroyed a lot of older trees on city property in 2007 and 2008 and there are concerns in the downtown area where a lot of trees date to the 1982 World's Fair. Last year the Legacy Parks Foundation, with the support of Carol R. Johnson and Associates, eased that problem somewhat by planting 25 new trees downtown.
Public Service is using another grant for a tree survey which is currently being conducted.
"It will give us an idea of the overall health and numbers of trees and help identify some areas of concern that we aren't aware of," Weth said. "The tree inventory is going to give us a better idea of what we have so we can manage it more effectively."
The city will purchase new trees in late November or early December and they'll all be planted by Christmas.