Issues of the Environment: Ann Arbor Trees and City Policy

Aug 14, 2013

To many, Ann Arbor is Tree Town.  In this week's installment of Issues of the Environment, we will explore the current health status of Ann Arbor's tree population and the city policies aimed at maintaining its lush canopy. 

Credit pigliapost / Foter / CC BY-SA

David's guest this week is Lynn Borset. Lynn is a founding member of the citizens group, The Ann Arbor Tree Conservancy.  The group is pushing Ann Arbor officials to make a stronger budgetary and policy commitment to the city's trees.


Overview

  •   Changes to Ann Arbor’s budget in recent years have left the city’s forestry department unable to adequately care for the city’s mature, healthy trees.
  •   Currently the Forestry Department admits that they are even struggling to even keep up with the removal of dead or “dangerous” trees, and they have a backlog of 1,400 trees designated for removal.
  •  The Ann Arbor Tree Conservancy (AATC), a grassroots group of Ann Arbor residents who advocate for the value and care of trees in their neighborhoods, would like the Forestry Department to give more weight to the economic, environmental, and quality of life assets afforded to the city by protecting mature trees.
  •  The AATC believes that the City ought not only to invest more money in caring for its urban forest, but that the forestry department’s focus ought to be on proactively maintaining the city’s mature trees, rather than a reactive approach.
  •  Although the AATC recognizes that the city has a dearth of tree specialists on its staff, they hope the Forestry Department will increase their maintenance activities like pruning and watering and actively seek viable alternatives to hastily chopping down “problem” trees.
  • They would like the Forestry Department to stop removing trees without proper assessment, damaging trees through over-pruning, and planting new saplings that they don’t have the manpower to water and will take decades to mature
  •  Lynn Borset and other concerned citizens founded the AATC in 2009 as a response to their perception that the Forestry Department was routinely and unnecessarily removing healthy trees and failing to maintain the existing trees---at times seemingly catering to cable or utility companies and ignoring taxpayers.


Current Issues Regarding Tree Maintenance in the City of Ann Arbor


Ann Arbor might be affectionately called Tree Town, but many residents and city officials agree the city has fallen behind on taking care of its dense green canopy.

The city's forestry department has been cut back over the years as budgets have tightened, and it's been years since the city proactively trimmed trees that line city streets.