|January 13, 2011 -
City Council has approved a $75,000 contract authorizing the Davey Resource Group to conduct an inventory of the city's publicly-owned trees and draft an urban forestry management plan for the city.
Council approved the contract at its Tuesday night meeting setting in motion what will be an assessment of publicly-owned trees along city streets and boulevards, in parks, green spaces, city right-of-ways and downtown. The Ohio-based Davey Resource Group manages natural resources for residential, commercial and public clients.
The results of the inventory plan will be used to develop a comprehensive management plan with the goal of improving how tree resources are managed in Knoxville.
"One key aspect of the inventory will be our ability to show the monetary value of our urban tree stock," says David Brace, Deputy Director of the Public Service Department (PSD). The PSD is responsible for all facilities and public grounds as well as the City's tree maintenance and planting programs. "Trees are assets with real value both in the cost of the tree itself but also to the value added to surrounding properties. It just makes good business sense to manage them like any other City investment."
Funding for the contract comes from three sources, $30,000 from City of Knoxville's capital fund; a $30,000 state forestry grant obtained earlier this year by the city's public service department and a $15,000 grant from the Knoxville Utilities Board.
According to the agreement the inventory will assess the city's tree resources including the, "predominant species type, size, condition, necessary maintenance, quality and other information…in order to draft an effective and long-term urban forest management plan."
One long-term goal of the inventory is the creation of an urban street tree layer within the Knoxville Knox County Geographic Information System, or KGIS.
The Public Service Department has a Horticulture Division that includes a fulltime tree crew responsible for maintenance and care of trees located in the city's right-of-ways, parks and green spaces. The City also has an active, all volunteer City Tree Board which helps guide the City on planting needs, community outreach and improvements to local ordinances.
Public Service via a private contractor normally plants about 350 new trees each year though, thanks to state Forestry Division funds, it has planted 400+ new trees in 2010. Those range from redbuds, dogwoods, crepe myrtles and holly trees to maples, oaks, magnolias and a even an occasional hemlock.
Knoxville has been designated as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for 19 consecutive years in recognition of its commitment to urban forestry and it has a very active tree board.