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Branching out

City looks to expanding street tree coverage

Photo courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society Street trees at General Joseph Warren Park and along Third Ave. in a (1930s?) photo.

The City of Warren is looking for residents who may want a street tree planted at their home this spring.

“Typically, we’ve been planting roughly 50 trees in the spring and 50 trees in the fall on city street right of ways,” Joe Reinke, DPW superintendent and city arborist, said. “The idea is to really plant more trees than we cut annually.”

To that end, Reinke said any interested residents are welcome to call the Department of Public Works and he will “come out and look at the spot and talk to the property and see if it is a good spot for a tree this spring.”

“The goal is to increase the tree cover across the city,” City Planner David Hildebrand said. “We try to continue to fill in the tree covers on the main corridors.”

“In recent years,” Reinke said, “we have also been planting trees also outside the city right of way if it means giving shade to an area that doesn’t have it.”

And right of way can mean more than just the strip of ground between the curb and the sidewalk.

Reinke said that the city has been planting “on private property on the other side of the sidewalk” if the traditional right of way is “too narrow (of a) tree space.”

Hildebrand said that back in the mid-20th century the city had a “great abundance of elm trees” that would span streets “almost like a tunnel.” Dutch Elm Disease killed many of them and while he acknowledged the city can’t “replicate that overnight” but is “trying to get that shade cover back up.”

Reinke said city staff and the city’s tree contractor removed 46 street trees last year but planted 81. He said that plus 35 total “is a little higher than we would typically be.”

He explains that they try to work with interested property owners to give the property owners a voice in selecting a species.

“The variables there are overhead wires, growth space in the right of way, salt spray from plow trucks, underground utilities and space to grow, aerial space to grow,” Reinke said.

Hildebrand said the city used to offer just three species.

Reinke said 19 different types of trees were planted across city right of ways last year.

“We’ve come a long way from three to four varieties,” Hildebrand said. “We’ve expanded that quite a bit.”

Any city residents interested in participating can reach the city at 723-6300.

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