| December 30, 2013 -
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero has separated urban forestry programs from horticulture operations, making each its own division within the Public Service Department.
The reorganization illustrates the priority placed on fully planning and developing all of the city's green spaces, and it also comes as contract crews are conducting the winter plantings of 600 trees.
The Urban Forestry Division prioritizes public safety, maintains and protects public trees, assesses and diversifies the city's tree stock and conducts tree education programs. Trees provide such benefits as reducing storm water runoff and energy costs while increasing property values, as well as a wealth of social and aesthetic benefits.
"Tree work is very specialized, and we want to make sure our crews are well trained and have the knowledge and skills to plant and work on trees," said city Urban Forester Kasey Krouse.
Krouse is overseeing a comprehensive inventory of the city's trees, neighborhood by neighborhood, that will be used to plan which trees should best be planted where to ensure a healthy, diverse urban forest. Neighborhoods that have a lower than average number of trees, or a narrow range of tree species, are prioritized for new plantings.
One of the neighborhoods where crews are currently planting is Parkridge, where trees are being planted between the sidewalks and roads on Washington, Jefferson and Fifth avenues.
Knoxville City Councilman Finbarr Saunders designated $2,420 from the Community Improvement (202) Fund to increase the number of Parkridge plantings by 20 trees. Community nonprofit groups apply for funding through the Community Improvement Fund, and City Council members select projects they wish to assist.
Last spring, Vice Mayor Nick Pavlis designated $361.47 from the Community Improvement Fund to add trees along Chapman Highway. Councilmen Mark Campen and Saunders together designated $900 from the Community Improvement Fund to support Arbor Day educational workshops and to plant trees at Christenberry and Lonsdale Elementary Schools.
From November through March is the perfect time for AvaLawn Lawn and Landscaping crews to do the tree plantings, Krouse said.
"Trees are dormant, and they tolerate some root disturbance," he said. "Planting now allows the root system to re-establish itself."
The city purchases its trees at wholesale prices from Hidden Valley Nursery, Magness Nursery and Walker Nursery Co. in or near McMinnville, hand-selecting the trees to assure high quality with competitive pricing.
"We buy wholesale, and we know we're getting the best stuff out there," Krouse said. "It's important how the nurseries prune the trees and care for them while they grow them at the nurseries."