The City of East Grand Rapids recently completed an inventory of trees located within public spaces including out-lawn areas, public parks and Gaslight Village.
Over the course of several months, Ohio-based Davey Resource Group collected and analyzed the inventory data to give an assessment of each tree location, size, species, condition and recommended maintenance activities. The study was conducted to promote and preserve the urban forest and improve the management of public trees in East Grand Rapids.
This is the first time the city has systematically inventoried its trees.
“One of the signature characteristics of East Grand Rapids is our robust urban canopy,” Mayor Amna Seibold said. “This study was an important step in ensuring that we are managing our resources appropriately so we can continue to enjoy the aesthetic and environmental benefits our trees bring.
“Not only did we want to preserve our urban forest, but we want to maintain it for the next generation of East Grand Rapids residents.”
A number of highlights came from the study, including: • The total value of public trees in the city is $7.4 million• 7,082 trees and 31 stumps were inventoried• 44 percent of the city’s urban forest is in the “established” category, which is between nine and 17 diameters at breast height • The overall condition of the tree population is good
Another highlight is the tree population provides approximately $883,776 in these annual benefits: • Aesthetic and other tangible benefits, valued at $276,361 per year• 15,245.3 pounds of pollutants removed, valued at $42,858 per year• 4,410,593 pounds of net total carbon sequestered and avoided, valued at $33,079 per year• 1,251.2 megawatt-hours and 169,572.8 therms of energy, valued at $261,150 per year• 9,975,209 gallons of storm water, valued at $270,328 per year
The most common spices of trees in East Grand Rapids are Norway maple, 36 percent; sugar maple, 13 percent; red maple, nine percent; thornless honeylocust, five percent; and littleleaf linden, five percent.
According to tree species diversity management best practice, the composition of an urban tree forest canopy should follow the “10-20-30” rule, which says a single species should not represent more than 10 percent of the urban forest, a single genus no more than 20 percent and a single family no more than 30 percent. A more diverse urban tree canopy will help preserve and protect the tree canopy from threats and impacts of invasive insects and diseases.
Residents should also consider diversifying tree plantings on private property as well.
The City has already begun to mitigate tree risk concerns, prioritize maintenance activities, alter and diversify the tree-planting program and budget more effectively based on the assessment. Another major benefit from the study is the ability to incorporate the trees into the City’s infrastructure planning system, which will allow city staff to better track and manage tree maintenance.
Davey Resource Group completed the study with the help of a $15,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service State and Private Forestry program and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Urban and Community Forestry program. Total costs directly associated with the tree inventory project were $38,483.76
East Grand Rapids has a tree-planting program for residents to encourage the expansion of the city’s urban canopy. Costs for the trees located within the right-of-way are split between the homeowner and the city. Bids are taken in September and city crews generally plant trees in either November or December.
“The tree-planting program is an excellent opportunity for our residents to increase the curb appeal and value of their home in an economical way,” Seibold said. “One of the key takeaways from the study is that we have an overabundance of maple trees in East Grand Rapids. This year, we’re going to encourage residents to select other varieties so we can diversify our tree species.”
Residents interested in the tree-planting program can call the public works department at 616.940.4817.