City’s Street Division a Leader in Tree Planting and Education Efforts

More Trees Planted, Fewer Needing Removal in 2018

A Tree City USA for more than thirty years, the City of Marshfield Street Division continues to make proactive strides to help ensure Marshfield residents can enjoy the beauty and benefits of trees for years to come. This year, Street Division staff will add ninety new trees through the City’s terrace tree forestry operation, while responsibly removing those that are dying or hazardous.

The first phase of the program involves removing or trimming all trees that have been inventoried throughout the spring, summer, and fall as dead/declining or in need of trimming. Most of these trees were either called in by residents or witnessed throughout the year by street division crews.

In 2008, a Blue Stem report conducted by an independent arborist inventoried all of the trees in Marshfield, including their species, health status, and other useful information.

“Each tree got inventoried and every terrace tree is mapped. All parks are inventoried, too,” said Tim Rasmussen, Street Division employee and ISA Certified Arborist. “Each tree is measured and given a rating – every single tree managed by the City.”

This information is utilized in the second phase of the program, which is to remove hazardous trees.

“Each year we try to take down several of these trees that are rated in very poor condition and typically have basal decay, trunk cavities, crown decay etc. as identified in the report,” said Mike Winch, Street Superintendent. “These trees also usually have some type of utility conflict and would cause significant personal and property damage if not preemptively removed.”

Though no one, not even staff, enjoys seeing a tree removed, sometimes it is necessary for the overall health of the community, and the best course of action for the tree and nearby property.

“It’s risk management,” explained Rasmussen. “How long are you going to allow a tree with a defect to be a threat? It’s a safety thing. We are trying to be on the forefront of the problem and not have a greater issue. If a tree is being removed, it has a defect.”

“It’s similar to why we remove trees for EAB, to mitigate the risk,” added Kris Hawley, Assistant Street Superintendent.

While they must remove trees for one reason or another, street division staff are dedicated to replacing that tree whenever possible, assuming conditions are suitable.

“Not only are trees aesthetically beautiful, they supply a lot of benefits,” said Hawley. “If a tree did get removed in front of your yard and you’re interested in a replacement tree and the site is suitable, definitely call us. We are way more excited to plant the tree in front of someone’s house that calls in.”

With a thorough understanding of the importance of a healthy urban forest, for phase three, division staff select several different tree species to plant each year.

“We want a healthy, diversified urban forestry program,” said Hawley, explaining that the overabundance of maple and ash trees in the City leaves its urban forest susceptible to destruction if something like EAB targets one specific species.

“With EAB, we really looked into our diversification, what we’re putting back out there,” said Rasmussen. “We are staying with the times, and staying more efficient and cost-effective in our management.”

Vastly assisting this initiative is the division’s tree gravel bed, which allows staff to house fifty “bare root” trees, which are purchased at a significant discount to balled/burlapped or containerized trees. Having more trees to plant is especially important now, due to the threat and destruction of EAB.

Last year, staff removed 94 trees and planted 65 – largely due to the threat of EAB.

“That balance is going the other way and that’s good news for us,” said Winch. This year, the division has 90 trees to plant, and hopes to plant more than they need to remove.

“Since implementing the gravel bed, we have really brought that planting number up, vs our removal, and hopefully every year it stays that way,” said Rasmussen. “It will take time. It’s probably the first time in a decade that those numbers have been this way.”

With an increased focus on education, both internally and for the public, the division is currently organizing training for staff on the proper pruning techniques,

“Our trimming window is pretty short between construction season and snowplowing,” said Rasmussen. “We need to get as many educated hands out on the road trimming as possible.”

In addition to internal education, staff is currently working with a local arborist to develop and conduct a tree care workshop for the public. (Learn how to plant a tree – click here!)

“It’s kind of surprising that there are a lot of City residents that know the value of trees

Rasmussen oversees a tree planting on Arbor Day 2017 at Lincoln Elementary School

and the more we get into it, the more encouraged we are,” said Winch. “People are realizing not only the aesthetic value, but stormwater benefits, shade and energy conservation, etc… The more education you get out there for people, the more they understand the need for removing and understand the need for new planting.”

Staff are excited to see the positive results these new planting, management, and education programs will have on Marshfield’s urban forest.

“We manage 4,845 trees right now total… and that number is growing!” said Winch. “Pun intended.”

Residents with questions are encouraged to contact the street division at 715-486-2081.

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