Fixing Our Urban Tree Management Problems

A tree workshop
The workshop at Bell Place Park

At a workshop at Bell Place Park in Lexington last Saturday, we made considerable progress on improving urban tree management in  Lexington.  Although the weather was poor and the turnout small, some key people were there.  In addition to several citizens from the neighborhood, we were joined by LFUCG Council Member Steve Kay,  LFUCG Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation  Chris Cooperrider, and other city staff.  The workshop was conducted by Tom Kimmerer, Chief Scientist at Venerable Trees, and Dave Leonard, a distinguished arborist from Dave Leonard Tree Specialists.  After looking at some of the damage due to mowing contractors, including the death of a large ginkgo, there was consensus on the following actions that should be taken:

  • The city should gradually shift from the use of contractors for mowing back to the use of Parks and Recreation employees who have better training and a vested interest in the health of our trees;
  • During the transition, better oversight of contractors is essential to reduce damage;
  • The city has already begun a reorganization of urban forestry within existing city departments to provide more professionalism and expertise in tree management across all city properties, and this should improve current practices;
  • More neighborhood involvement is critical, including citizen involvement in maintaining trees in the parks within their neighborhoods.  For example, neighborhood associations could organize tree mulching activities with materials and support from Parks and Recreation staff.

Dave Leonard offered some lessons in proper mulching of trees and, with help from the neighbors, he mulched several trees.  He also inspected several trees in the neighborhood.

We agreed as a group that the emphasis in planting on city properties should be on native trees of the Inner Bluegrass plus some trees such as baldcypress from elsewhere in the region, but that do well here.  One recommendation was to remove all callery pears (Bradford and Aristocrat) from city property, since they are a major source of seeds for invasion of city natural areas.

We all left the meeting feeling that we are making significant progress.