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Survey encourages EGR residents to diversify tree choices

In this article with Michigan Live.com, Lee Mueller, project manager for Davey Resource Group, talks about the survey DRG is doing in Grand Rapids and how it will help the city plan their urban tree canopy. 

Posted: August 9, 2016

By Jan Holst

In recent years East Grand Rapids has been placed on a number of lists that promote pleasant or good places to live and part of its charm  – at least in the city officials' eyes –is the trees.

They may be right – at least in terms of value – since one of the findings from a recently completed Tree Inventory Study is that the replacement value of the tree population in the city is approximately $7.4 million. The study said that 7,113 sites were inventoried and concluded that the "overall condition of the tree population is "good."

"The inventory supports city work to pro-actively manage its community forestry assets, recognize the values that trees bring to the community, and budget effectively for future tree care needs," said arborist Lee Mueller, of the Davey Resource Group, which conducted the survey.

"The inventory and subsequent work performed by the city clearly demonstrates the value that East Grand Rapids places on its trees." 

The tree survey project got its start when the city received a tree inventory grant of $15,000 from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources last December. Final costs directly associated with the project were $38,484, according to City Manager Brian Donovan.

The tree inventory concentrated on trees in the public right-of-way and included an assessment of each tree location, size, species, and condition.

Risk ratings, based on factors such as root characteristics, branch structure, canopy, foliage condition and presence of pests, ranked trees from low to those at extreme risk. Only one tree in the City of East Grand Rapids received an extreme risk rating and it has already been removed, Mueller told the City Commission.

City officials are particularly concerned that as trees in the center of boulevards and those located on private property between the streets and sidewalks get older or get diseased, the canopy could be lost.

For years, the city has maintained a tree planting program to incentivize property owners to plant or replant trees in the right-of-way with a 50-percent match. Property owners could choose from a list and after paying half the cost of the tree, the city has it installed.

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