Chesterton Tribune

Gina Darnell reports on tree inventory

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Of the approximately 2,200 trees inventoried on Town of Chesterton public rights-of-way last year by urban forester Gina Darnell, only slightly more than half are in good condition, more than 10 percent are in need of “priority work” in the next five years, and an unhealthy two-thirds of them are maples.

So Darnell reported to the Town Council at its meeting Monday night.

Darnell’s inventory, funded by a grant awarded to the town in 2009 by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry, concentrated on the core Downtown area and accounted for roughly 3,000 of Chesterton’s estimated 4,500 public street-tree sites.

Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg had hopes of securing a second DNR grant to fund an inventory of the remaining trees but earlier this year learned that his application had been rejected.

Darnell’s findings:

•Of the 3,043 street-tree sites inventoried, 2,286 were occupied by trees; 45 by stumps; and 711 were empty but designated as planting sites.

•The total replacement value of those 2,286 trees: $4,062,952.

•Of those 2,286 trees, 1,233 or 58.4 percent were in “good” condition; 792 or 31.8 percent in “fair” condition; 248 or 9.5 percent in “poor” condition; and 13 or 0.4 percent dead.

•One fifth of those 2,286 trees—20.5 percent—had diameter of 30 inches or more. “This predominantly mature street-tree population is likely nearing or in a tree decline stage,” Darnell noted.

•Darnell inventoried a total of 74 separate species but 59 percent of all street-trees were maple (genus Acer), followed by spruces at 6 percent, oaks at 4 percent, and apples at 3.5 percent. “A rule of thumb is to have no more than 20 percent of any one genus type of tree,” Darnell told the council. “By having a wide diversity of species, problems with disease and insect epidemics, which usually attack specific tree types, are less likely.” Darnell recommended plantings of oak, serviceberry, basswood, and disease-resistant elms.

•Of the 2,286 trees, 1,177 or 51 percent should require only limited maintenance over the next 10 years; 833 or 36 percent, only routine maintenance like trimming; and 276 trees or 12 percent, priority work. Of those 276, 27 are at risk of failure and should be promptly removed; 171 need priority pruning, with limbs overhanging roadways or extending past curbs; and 75 should be removed in a second phase.

•A total of 711 sites are available for planting. “Tree planting at a rate of 90 trees per year for 10 years will be needed to fully stock all available street-tree sites,” Darnell said.

Darnell concluded her report by observing that Chesterton’s street-trees do more than simply beautify the town. They also have quantifiable benefits, which she calculated at $434,251: $166,717 alone from the 6.2 millions of stormwater which they suck up and another $125,896 in their aesthetic value. Net benefits, after deducting the $53,525 spent maintaining them in 2010—or something on the order of 0.00348 percent of the town’s total budget--$380,726.

Arbor Day

While on the subject of trees, Tree Board President Jeff Cernick invited folks to celebrate Arbor Day at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 30, at 411 Broadway, where a flowering crab damaged in a storm will be replaced in a ceremonial planting.

Cernick announced that the Town of Chesterton has received its 15th consecutive Tree City USA designation, one of 67 of the state’s 450 municipalities to be so honored. Criteria for the designation: an active tree board, an expenditure of $2 per capita per year on the municipality’s street-trees, and a regular maintenance program.

Finally, Cernick urged folks to make contributions to the Chesterton Tree Fund for ongoing tree plantings in Morgan Park. Make the check out to Chesterton Tree Fund and drop it off at the town hall or the Street Department at 607 Grant Ave.

Member Jim Ton, R-1st, told Cernick to put him down for $50, the cost of planting one tree.

To make it all official, members voted 5-0 later in the meeting to adopt a resolution declaring the week of April 25-30 Urban Forestry Days and Saturday, April 30, Arbor Day, in the Town of Chesterton.

Duneland Rebuilding Together

This year’s edition of Duneland Rebuilding Together is also on tap on Saturday and as always members voted 5-0 to waive all building permit fees for projects in town.

Schnadenberg reminded residents that they’re likely to see some of the Street Department vehicles and crews out and about, lending a hand to the effort.




Posted 4/27/2011